The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath & a Narcissist.

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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, I would love to read a perspective from the opposite side if there are any narcissists that would like to offer their views on this topic.

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.

For a detailed explanation of both the narcissist and empathy personality types, please click here and here.

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 while attempting 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. It’s as if empaths 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 in 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 that comes with being in the company of a narcissist. Before long, an extremely vicious circle has begun to swirl.

When a narcissist sees that an empath is wounded, they will seize 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 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 that it can be easy to blame all of their destruction on 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 once 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 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 so that we can do everything we can to build the courage and confidence to 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.


Relephant Reads:

Traits of an Empath.


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Author: Alex Myles

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Victoria Sorderstrom (used with permission)


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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.

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anonymous Apr 10, 2016 8:33am

This is so true. I’ve never really understood why I stay in my past relationship for so long, but this all makes sense.

anonymous Apr 9, 2016 6:46pm

While I appreciate the article for the discussion and awareness it is raising, I must add that narcissism is a personality disorder. A personality disorder is not a coping mechanism as might be learned from an event. A personality disorder is not something that can be unlearned. Personality disorders cannot be medicated or counseled away. For the author to suggest in any way that narcissism can be treated, reversed or modified in any way only serves to keep someone, especially an unsuspecting empath, in a terrible relationship GAME THEY CAN NEVER WIN. Be grateful for the lesson, be grateful for the opportunity to rebuild yourself and discover all the beauty and light and love that YOU ARE and leave that relationship behind. Distance and time will reveal how much you have gained from the experience. I promise.

anonymous Apr 9, 2016 8:17am

But you don't understand that being an empath and in a relationship with a narcissist could cause Complex PTSD, and getting out is not as easy as one may think. The getting out is about getting out of the destructive thought patterns that are caused by trauma – in the past and now with the narcissist. Trauma changes the brain, and the part of the brain responsible for fight or flight remains on. It's a complicated subject and making it sound easy puts the blame on the victim. A victim is a victim and healing or getting out, as I mentioned before, is not easy. Putting the pieces back together is not easy. No one wants to be in a toxic position, no one.

anonymous Apr 9, 2016 7:09am

My son took his own life 2 years ago. Before it happened, he had spoken to me and to some of his close friends about emotional abuse like what you described. The relationship lasted 3 yrs beginning at euphoric and slowly going downhill until the tragic ending. There were young children in the home 3 stepchildren who he helped take care of and had bonded with and one that he and his wife had together. We knew he was feeling trapped and depressed but never thought he would take his own life. He had always been a very positive person until the last few months when things started going downhill fast. I wish I could have understood about toxic relationships what I do now. I thought it would be worked out one way or another and he knew we would support him no matter what he decided. He was almost 29 years old. I guess I just want to warn people that these relationships can suck the life out of a person and sometimes an empath may want out but stays for the children, or because the narcissist begs him to(which is only a ploy). Sometimes their depression can cause them to make an impulsive and deadly choice. If you love someone in a toxic relationship, remember they may need help getting out.

anonymous Apr 1, 2016 10:19pm

I’ve read a lot of articles on the empath/narcissist attraction, but I think yours is one of the best. It perfectly described what I went through in my 4 year on-again-off-again relationship with my covert narcissist. I didn’t recognize him as such until until after we split. If nothing else, that relationship helped me recognize that I’m an empath. Now I’m trying to figure out how to forgive *myself* for giving my ALL to a man who didn’t (or couldn’t) love me back…the emotional equivalent of a black hole.

But today, I found this…

anonymous Mar 30, 2016 6:34pm

Thank you so much

anonymous Mar 22, 2016 11:51pm

I feel this article is VERY one sided. Putting people into boxes is very narrow-minded.. There are narcissists that cannot and will not change that can eventually become very bitter, judgemental and closed off to others and probably alone and then there are some with narcissist tendencies, which we can all have at times. Remember which wolf you feed!!! I completely understand the dynamics of this destructive relationship patterning which prompted me to include a segment about this negative relationship patterning in my 2nd book, soon to be published. It is important to recognize if your relationship is showing these tendencies. Know that there is no perpetrator when there is no victim!! When the empath, playing out the victim role, begins to feel empowered and stops their behaviour and no longer tolerates being disrespected, then the narcissist, playing the perpetrator role has a choice to stop the behaviour OR choose to go and do it to someone else. It is sad that some that have found themselves in this negative relationship patterning have chosen to avoid relationships altogether. We are all striving for balance in life, and these relationships give us the opportunity to transform ourselves if we take 100% responsibility for our part in the relationship. These relationships offer us incredibly opportunities for growth in learning to become assertive, get in touch with what we want and learning to ask for it!!

anonymous Mar 21, 2016 6:16pm

Insightful article and the Editor’s comment at the start is helpful and pertinent. I was sent this link by a friend, a very troubled narcissist who sees herself as the “victim” of the type of people she attracts because she is “doomed and predisposed by birth” to have the mindset of the empath.

In fact her narcissism has driven many of her relationships away, which seems to be obvious to others who care about her but not to herself – even though she is usually highly-perceptive about human nature and motivations.

Is it very difficult for the narcissist to recognise their own narcissistic nature and interaction with others? Or is it that, even if they become aware of it, they cannot help themselves behaving in a narcissistic way and so seek others, such as empaths, to permit their behaviour, thereby giving it some legitimacy in their own mind?

Mary’s comment above was useful (thanks Mary) as it reflects the type of behaviour my friend is displaying with others, especially the few empaths amongst her group of friends.

“When the narcissist is delusional and thinks they are the empath. Demands to be in control and then plays the victim because things are not going their way.”

My friend went through a period of counselling with a cognitive behavioural therapist who, through the course of their time together, recognised that she was a narcissist and played that back to her directly (she once told the therapist that even the bad weather follows her around as if it’s trying to get her).

The counselling helped her for a while but, once it was finished, she reverted back to her “normal”, highly-manipulative behaviour. It’s difficult to see a friend who is a narcissist wounded and suffering under the belief that the way they feel is everyone or everything else’s fault – and even a result of what they believe to be their own empathic nature.

However, it does appear to be true that: “Any attempt to communicate authentically with the narcissist will be futile as they will certainly not be looking to soothe and heal anyone else.” as the author points out.

I’ve found that Adam Grant’s bestselling “Give and Take” book is also helpful reading on this subject.

anonymous Mar 19, 2016 10:28pm

Wow this sounds just like what I was involved in for the last 3 months. I am the empath and I was completely devastated and at the same time knew I was in a bad situation. My addiction and attraction was so strong i couldn't walk away! I pleaded and begged and put myself in a humiliating situation. I seem to repeat this in relationships

anonymous Mar 19, 2016 6:05pm

Oh boy, this is my life to a T. Went from a narcissistic mother to a narcissistic husband, whose tagline was , “You have forced my hand”, never once took responsibility for his actions. I am in the end of a relationship now after 5.5 months with the same kind of man. When I ask him point blank if maybe he can say something nice about me, he says, ” Wow, all you say is ‘me, too! me, too’ “and it finally dawned on me that I was repeating the same behaviours over again. Ugh. I wish these “labels” that we all wear would appear on our foreheads.

anonymous Mar 16, 2016 7:06pm

excellent and informative. thanks

anonymous Feb 20, 2016 9:08pm

Warning: fauxfound alert…. (faux-profound) but hey surely the habit described here plays out but … accurate personality profiling as used in business, military and law enforcement is well researched and utilized at this point via MMPI & Myers-Briggs. I find people say ‘this happened to me.. because of that person’ which is a premise of this article. Knowing as much as possible about one’s own motivations apart from anyone is useful – or same result tends to repeat. The MMPI & Myers-Briggs are really useful there; if not used for modification or at least great predictors of behavior. Know thyself 🙂

anonymous Feb 20, 2016 1:20am

As I type this, I am totally in shock about how much your words mirror my thoughts and feelings! I have never been able to pinpoint or understand any of what I have been going through and want to thank you for your words. They have deeply moved me and given me so much strength!! I am so glad that I stumbled across this…life changing!!!!

anonymous Feb 18, 2016 11:54pm

Yep, i am a what's called an covert introvert narcissist.Well at least that's my self-diagnosis.I have learned alot of myself from this. I feel very hopeless to change myself but i'm sure i'm not the only wounded person in the world. I have a lot to work on for sure. I feel like if i seek help from people i only continue this negative part of me.If you know of any self-help books for a person like me i will be greatly appreciated but not in a user kind of way. I think back now after 37 years on this earth and the wake of destruction ive left and i'm starting to see i am the one that has made people leave me. My poor mother is an empath i suppose. She's babied me for years because i can't keep a job or a health relationship.I have sucked the life from every one i have came in contact with. Tomorrow is the first step for me to seek help professionally because i know whats happening now is from my own hand and i'm horrified at myself. thank you for your enlightenment on what has been a lifetime mystery for me.

anonymous Feb 14, 2016 7:40am

bottom line…label yourself however you feel you need too, you need to take responsibility for your own actions.

anonymous Feb 13, 2016 10:22am

Hi I am very disturbed reading this article I am about to get married and my partner is a narcissist earlier she use to respond to me n was much open to suggestions but now the situation is out of control I am now turning into a victim I don’t know how to get a permanent solution to this I love her and I won’t leave her ever even if I have to go through hell I want her to get out of this please suggest how can I get her peace

anonymous Feb 9, 2016 7:56am

I guess I’m a narcissist. I’d really rather not be. I’m so afraid of hurting my partner but I literally don’t know how else to function. On behalf of many narcissists, I’m sorry.

anonymous Feb 8, 2016 10:28am

This rings true with me. I was married to a woman whom I deem to be a narcissist. We were together for 16 years, divorced. I married someone else and when that didn’t work out, my narc ex approached me about reconciling and I agreed to try for the kids sake (to give them some stability and maybe a shot at putting the family back together) and because she told me she had changed. While I was still grieving my second marriage, I wasn’t getting much support, understanding or encouragement to move on, from her – no empathy and love, just anger and resentment. I became depressed realizing what I had returned to. She had a way of always twisting everything to be about her. Always treated me like shit behind closed doors and I was returning to my conceder ways. Always trying to please her and avoid confrontation. Always made to feel useless and unworthy and then any attempt to talk always turned into an argument where she always told me I was making her feel exactly how she made me feel. Like she could sense what I was feeling and transfer it back to herself. I felt as though I was going crazy. Our parenting styles are totally different as well. This time I quickly realized my mistake and when I was strong enough, left and am now on my own. My oldest son is rebelling a little bit against me but I needed to do it. I was useless to him and his brother, depressed and out of any form of control. I attempted counselling because I was told by her I was the problem and needed it. She wouldn’t even go because she didn’t need it she claimed. She was doing everything right. Everyone thinks she is great and I am the bad guy. She is so good at keeping up the facade – so fake. No one knows it, because all she has to do is turn on the woe is me waterworks to get what she wants. As the baby of 6 children its understandable in a sense. But she is unreasonable. Unable to be an equal partner and unable to respect.

I’m glad I got out but my only regret was not going with my gut 20 years ago and leaving her at the altar. I have two great kids but have to navigate several more years with her looming. I just hope when they are old enough they understand what I have endured. The sacrifices I have made.

anonymous Feb 7, 2016 11:00pm

You opened my eyes to so many things that I wasnt looking at. Thank you so much for this article.

anonymous Feb 6, 2016 12:15pm

This article changed my life. Thank you for letting the chains fall from my eyes.

anonymous Jan 31, 2016 6:31am

Not all empaths are having any expectations of fixing anyone, nor are accepting being treated badly, etc.

You can be realistic, have plenty of life experience, and still choose to be empath.

That takes strength.

One can still hook up with wrong person though.

My story is slightly different: I aim to be easy going in relationships, avoid being paranoid about every little thing, and treat people the way I want to be treated. But I do not accept people being rude nor abusive to me. If calm friendly reasonable discussions don’t solve the differences, then there’s no point staying together.

However, narcissistic people are very good at adapting as it turns out.

A person like that can keep faking for years and years, letting you believe that we are having quite nice relationship, we are having nice communication and all that (not realizing how much of it is fake nor what is going on behind your back.)

Of course there are all sorts of mask slips where his/her real personality/disorder shines through, but if you haven’t earlier had any real experience from people like that, you just figure “oh well, we all have our odd days sometimes”, while failing to connect dots and seeing them as red flags.

It’s not about trying/happen to lie to oneself because one is so attached to their love interest.

It’s about simply not realizing that people can be that extreme because lack of previous experiences from people like that.

And I have noticed, people are very easy to be tricked by a npd person into believing pretty much anything.

People often go, when you’re trying to explain some more extreme aspects of what issues npd people can engineer, “oh, yeah, I know I know, but I/we would not be that easy to believe made up stories! Oh, don’t you worry!”

My ex husband keeps proving it over and over and over again that people do exactly that: fall for his made up stories. He just needs to find the way in. He needs to find what works and doesn’t work for a person, and then adjusts the story the way it will be acceptable as truth for that person.

Personality disorders have entire spectrums of how disorders may express themselves.

Some people with personality disorders might have very mild cases, while others can be extreme.

Also, very important to remember with each case: all people are unique!

That includes people who have certain disorders. You cannot say that all who have same disorder have same way of doing things, or have equally “low intelligence”, or alike, although certain problematic traits are of course same.

One should never underestimate people.

Specially not ones with personality disorders.

anonymous Jan 31, 2016 6:08am

When the narcissist is delusional and thinks they are the empath. Demands to be in control and then plays the victim because things are not going their way. So much worse.

anonymous Jan 30, 2016 11:10am

I can relate to all of this – but also tell you that my relationship has improved. I finally stopped enabling my partner, pushing my needs on him to get better and I put it all in his hands. I had put up with horrible behavior for a long time and when I drew boundaries and he knew I meant it, he changed. Not all narcissists are ever willing to admit that they are wrong, so I am lucky that I have someone that will admit to fault and humble himself. If someone is willing to admit that they are wrong, that they need outside help, there is hope. Narcissists need help, but usually not from their partner. They need to see there is a problem and love their partner, and themselves enough to seek that out. Perhaps if the empath can stop enabling and make the narcissist grow up some, there is hope.

anonymous Jan 30, 2016 1:26am

Anyone in a relationship like this should watch Ross Rosenbergs youtube channel. I have spent 18 years of my life trying to fix a narcissist… Not knowing he was a narcissist . He has treated me like shit, and every time I have confronted him with what he has done, he has gaslighted me. It was only after I started practicing transcendental meditation that I got a birds eye view over our conflicts and saw how he twisted everything around blaming me. I never knew what a narcissist was until this, and after watching Ross Rosenbergs videos I understand that he is a narcissist and I am a codependent, because I grew up with a narcissistic father. Everything in my life makes sence now. I see every conflict the last 18 years in a New light…Now i am in a situation where I have two small children with this man, and he owns everything, because I am a stay at mom… I can't afford to move out, and he knows this, so he uses this to his advantage…. Now he has started his game against me, manipulating everyone around us into thinking that I am the one with the problem. I am an empath, so this is extra hurtfull for me because I take in everyones feelings.." But I thank god for transcendental meditation which lets me see the BIG picture, and enables me to keep calm when he rages on and on….

anonymous Jan 26, 2016 4:06am

“They are not consciously aware of their behavior.” A distinction between narcissists and other unhealthy pathological diagnoses is exactly that they are aware of what they are doing, and it is intentional. Hence, even a distinction in legal recognition of this.

Can you please cite your research that backs your statement?

anonymous Jan 20, 2016 9:25pm

You know, people who tend towards narcisim are still people. Human beings who can work on their problems like everyone else. I think this article, although still excellent, is a little too black and white. It paints these relationships as though an empath is some flawless saint and the narcissist is to blame for everything bad. Reality is just so much more complicated then that and I don’t think that’s acknowledged here at all.

anonymous Jan 20, 2016 3:51am

Ha.Ha, watch the narcissist trash and minimise empathic introverts.

anonymous Jan 18, 2016 11:18am

If you’ve gone on so many dates that you are able to construct scientific hypothesis based on your observations, you’ve officially gone on too many dates.

anonymous Jan 18, 2016 2:17am

Wow reading this brought tears to my eyes and just made me realise that it was exactly the situation I was in with my ex. We were engaged to be married and together for seven years, however it never felt right and I always felt that worthlessness as I was always to blame. How exhausting that 7 years was and thank God I saw the light and left because I was so unhappy I felt like I was not myself. Now that I’m on my own I’m getting to know myself again and it feels amazing! Not once have I felt like going back to him or even cried from missing him. Truly eye opening article thank you.

anonymous Jan 16, 2016 7:15am


I admire your strength in your ability to recognize you are in this situation. Like you, it took me over 3 years to finally realize I too was in a relationship with a narassist and I was the empath. I’m two days into finally being free from this relationship. It’s scary but also very exhilarating at the same time. Talking to others in the same situation is a great way to start the process of understanding what is really happening to you. Below is my story of how I got out. I hope this helps you and many others in this situation. It’s horrible these types of people, narassits, exist. I’ve come to understand and acknowledge I was being emotionally abused. Please reach out to me if you need any support. I know I don’t know you but I understand what your going through and hope this will help you too.

Over the 3 years in my relationship I was continuously trying to ‘fix’ him and later in the relationship ‘fix’ the relationship. No matter what I did and how hard I tried, all my efforts did not help and only pulled me further into a depression about my self worth. I couldn’t understand why someone would be so cruel to other human beings, even the ones he claimed to love.

My advise is to read as much as you can, like is article, to gain knowledge about a narcissist. For every article I read I gained more insight into this type of person and began to see the light. It took me a few times of getting out of the relationship because I was drawn back into his manipulative world by his unauthentic charm during the cycle behavior in this type of relationship with him trying to win be back.

Keep reading and surround yourself with friends and family who know and appreciate your true personality of being a loving and caring person. These people who appreciate and truly love you will be your strength as you pull yourself out of this relationship.

As you read it will in power you with the knowledge of the signs of the various manipulate tricks to watch for and methods to manage through this process and not let his tricks work.

One tool I like the best is the “no contact” method. This method drives the narsassit crazy because you are what he is feeding on. If you remove yourself or not try to make sure he understands the way you see things, he has nothing to feed off of. Therefore, it defuses his efforts of turning the situation onto you or make it your fault. I’ve experienced this many times and it’s exhausting. I started to believe I was going crazy at one point. No matter what I said, how I said it, when I said something, or what my intentions were, it was always my fault, I was wrong, or I should have done it his way.

Lastly, I also sought the advise of a therapist during the final stages of my relationship as a way to help me see through all the mind games he tried to play on me. This helped me weed through my thoughts, understand my self worth, acknowledge i was being emotionally abused, and help me gain the strength to pull myself out on my own timeline. Some therapist i found tried to tell you how to manage through a situation. I found a therapist that specializes in this type of behavior (narassisitim). We talked through my situation and she gave me tools to understand what was happening, choices I can make, understanding of his disease, confirmation I was not alone as many women go through similar situations, and support as I made my decisions to end the relationship. Along with my family, she was one of the best support I brought into my life that led me to finally getting out if the relationship once and for all!

Trust me it’s better to get out of this type of relationship. It will only destroy the positive light from within your soul. However, you will get out on your own timeframe and not when people tell you to get out. So surround yourself with a good support system and make decisions that feel right in your gut! Trust me, your gut will tell you when it’s right. Just make sure to have the support around you when you are ready to make the change!

I wish you all the best! Stay strong and always believe in yourself! You are worth more than know and have only bright days ahead of you!

anonymous Jan 16, 2016 12:26am

Wow. That’s my life story from the last 5 years right there! I fell on love with a narcissist, and what a toxic situation it turned out to be. I am/was the empath, and you’re spot with every little detail. I have since escaped, but not completely unscathed.

This has been a helpful read. We’ll done.

anonymous Jan 15, 2016 9:31pm

The 475 comments to date make this a great article, if nothing else. It's great that so many are engaging in these conversations, sharing pain and healing experiences, growing together. I'm moved to say something, and hope it adds and doesn't detract from the conversation. It's all practice in opening up and allowing our true self to express, right?
We are all human. We all have personality traits that often shift and change as we live and learn. People can feel and be intuitive, and be able to think.. can have empathy for others and place importance on looking after their own needs.
When these personality traits become extreme, usually due to trauma and often in childhood, they can be classified as personality disorders or mental illnesses eg BPD, NPD, anxiety disorders or depression, etc.
To describe oneself or others as "an empath" or "a narcissist" is a judgement and as such is self serving.. narcissistic.
So many of us have been damaged, our personalities developing skewiff in such a myriad of ways, that the only real answer is to really get to know ourselves, to learn honesty and authenticity in this process, to learn to love ourselves and find what nurturing ourselves really entails, eg setting firm boundaries, walking away when necessary, resting and tuning in to our own wisdom, being aware of what we eat and do and making sure that nurtures us in the short and long term, and to get help when we need it. Relationship has great potential for this development, as do our mistakes. Labelling only makes us think we know, and when we think we know something, we are no longer open to learning more about it. There's no such solid ground. We are in a process, and need to stay in the flow of it, continually opening up and becoming aware of our self-protection mechanisms.
We are extremely clever at hiding from ourselves, blaming others for our issues, making up stories that paint us in a good light or justify our actions. We identify with our personality and believe that is who we are, but it has been made, and it can change. Neuroplasticity is maintained throughout life.. it's never too late or too early to become aware of who we really are, to cut the crap and let go of the games, to simply breathe and be grateful, to be.
Each of us is unique, no better or worse than anything else in all existence, just different. There's no use judging anyone or blaming someone else for who they are.. we are responsible for everything and everyone in our own lives, whether that entails walking, or staying and talking. In relationship, we co-create each other. This goes beyond enabling. It is owning that we had a part in what that other person became, whether we like it or not, whether we let go of them or not. Compassion doesn't pick or choose, we feel for everyone, including our enemies, including ourselves. We just need to be strong within ourselves as well, no longer tossed around by other's needs, wants, desires or games.
From an empathic perspective, we could say "You've got to feel it to heal it". We could also say "You've got to heal it to be free of it".. it's empathic to feel, it's also empathic to do something about your situation. It's also empathic to be compassionate with regard to our friends and partners while we process our issues and problems, as our ongoing sharing can be draining on them and disruptive to their lives, which may push them to develop narcissistic traits if they're not careful with their own energy. It's easy to say that a person with narcissistic personality traits needs to get psychiatric help, but there are times when we all could do with some professional help to get some movement through our stuff.. to get to real freedom.
It's a big mess we're in, in this world, and in many ways it's getting worse, but freedom, real freedom, is always just a breath away.. I tell myself.

anonymous Jan 15, 2016 7:29pm

Hi everyone reading everyone’s story brings tears in my eyes. I know am not alone in this and that am not crazy. Many times I’ve felt worthless no matter how much I tried and how much I did. Now I have hope that things will be okay, I need to get out and soon. I am worth much more than this and I can not change him only God and him self. Thank you for the article and everyone that shared their story.

anonymous Jan 15, 2016 5:03pm

I rarely leave comments but I really want to thank you for this article. I’m ashamed to admit that I learned all of this the hard way 15 years ago after my 7 year long marriage ended. I think I cried for 4 years after that. My point being that it took a long time and alot of group classes and online reading before I finally made peace with it all and was able to move on. I seen the warning signs in the guy I’ve been with for the last 4 years but I guess I chose to ignore them. I’d been so secluded and so lonely and it felt good to be in love again. I won’t bore you with details but I just broke up with him and I should have turned away from the jump but he is so damn charming and knows just what to say to make everything seem ok again. I want to beat myself up for being so stupid but I don’t have time for that. There may be other ways of explaining how this works but for me it has been the empath/narcissist articles and Sam Vatkin videos that explained everything so well and helped me understand so very much and I don’t care what others say. I appreciate your article and your empathy more than I can ever say. I really needed to hear this again. It gives me strength.

anonymous Jan 15, 2016 7:15am

So, what do you do if the narcissist is a family member, not a chosen relationship?

anonymous Jan 14, 2016 10:17pm

Hi All,

Just wanted to let you know, that what is being described here are the symptoms of Anxiety Disorder.

When you have Anxiety Disorder you are hyper vigilant and hyper aware of your surroundings and prone to over empathising.

If this is you, it’s best consult a specialist with medical training to help you with your negative symptoms of being an “Empath”

anonymous Jan 13, 2016 5:32pm

Not going to say my real name but some- not all- but some narcissists like the game it gives a thrill knowing they can pick it back up at any time or one text or call and they know they ruined your day just a friendly warning from a narc

anonymous Jan 13, 2016 1:11pm

Is there a book, a support group, a website, anything that can provide help for the empath to release his/her feelings from the relationship. I am very clearly in this situation and NEED to get out but my feelings draw me back and each time any sign of growth and change is shown, I’m convinced that is enough and that is good enough and I’ll stay around. Each time it isn’t enough and it will never be good enough because of how damaged the person truly is and how easily I am convinced of a change in his behavior. I feel lost because I can’t seem to get out and it is hurting me and truly driving me crazy. I know I’m in control and I know it is my own issue, but I can’t seem to break free.

    anonymous Jan 13, 2016 1:18pm

    Hi Elizabeth,

    We all have relationship/breakup troubles at one time or another (whether it's a "narcissist – empath" problem or not) — you are not alone. You are aware that you need help getting through this and that is key to getting through this and to a better place. We don't have the expertise to council you, however. I'd suggest you look online for a therapist, support group or counselor that can offer you face to face support. All the best. ~ Renee (Ed.)

anonymous Jan 13, 2016 3:45am

This article came to me by chance and I loved it! I am thinking of a couple of friends now, but have to say that this is the perfect description of a period of my live. Life seem to be so simple, but human beings so complicated. Almost hilarious now.

Definitely the best article I have seen on this type of relationships. Congratulations!!!

anonymous Jan 9, 2016 11:04am

I see so much in this I can relate to. The nature of each personality and what drives them – hurt on one side, needing to heal/help on the other. Both are problematic. I would add, though, that the hurt one – the narcissist – may not be manipulative in the classic sense. Their behavior is motivated by hurt and protecting their fragile sense of self, which drives them to put themselves above others. This is more often subconscious, rather than a conscious scheming that we might interpret from the description of the narcissist as manipulative and self-serving. I say this not to defend the narcissist, but to help the empath who might see a more complex reality in their relationship and think, “Oh, well he/she is not THAT bad.” The hard part is realizing that the person is driven from their hurt and fear and therefore will make choices that are self-focused. It doesn’t always look like self-aggrandizement. That hurt ego is so smart – it can craft itself into whatever is called for to get what it needs from others, be it victim or top dog. The reason the empath stays is because of the good she or he sees in the other person, which is indeed there. What is also there, unfortunately, is pain-driven ego that inevitably steps on others. Allowing oneself to be stepped on (often repeatedly) is the fault of the empath. It is up to the empath to release the attachment to the need to fix or heal, and to witness the reality of the relationship.

anonymous Jan 9, 2016 10:47am

This article describes almost perfectly the two year relationship I am in. Trying to find the strength that has been sucked out of me to get out.

    anonymous Jan 16, 2016 4:14pm

    You should! Find the courage n do it as soon as possible. I was in the same position as you and wanted gone after 1 years but ended up with 3 more years never taking that last step.. but in the end I didnt even recognize myself anymore. When i finally left i didnt cry one tear and now i am myself again and feels so good!!!! Im finally happy again. Too bad i wasted 4 years of my life…

anonymous Jan 9, 2016 7:13am

I don't think I've ever read a more conclusive analysis of my 18 yr marriage to my pastor husband. This article was wonderful and describes it perfectly. He was my knight in shining armor and I wanted to help him through his unacknowledged PTSD after we met. I excused the verbal attacks, the physical attacks and the emotional exchanges. I owned it ALL and he always said "look what you made me do" and "well I wouldn't have done this if you hadn't done that"…… God, I thank you for the courage to leave (it's been a year since our divorce) and opening my eyes enough to accept that I matter, I'm amazing and that I can't fix anyone but me. I pray that my teenage children won't have any lasting effects… Best wishes to everyone here In their journey toward wholeness….

anonymous Jan 8, 2016 11:35am

I have learned to spot this personality type. A dead giveaway is someone who constantly puts themselves on top of others including verbally re-enforcing how great they are. If you are put down by one, ignore it as their words do not suddenly represent your own self-worth.

I believe they can be healed too. Catering to that ego and reflecting their hurtful behaviour back (i.e. trying to compete) will only worsen the situation but what may help is convincing them to reveal how they truly feel and then teach them to appreciate their inner-worth and not the false persona they created.

anonymous Jan 8, 2016 12:44am

Thank you … I can relate to this and the relationship I had for 12years.
A self acclaimed Life Coach whom he now has a relationship with seems to place blame that the other should not play the victim. Your article has explained more truth than that of someone who promotes the knowledge of a " life coach in behavioural skills.

anonymous Jan 7, 2016 11:15pm

This is like a description of my last relationship. Thank you for this insight. I got stuck with my feelings for him even after we broke up because I felt really responsible for his additional pain and I sincerely wanted to help heal him. (Since we were still communicating after we broke up). But, I felt worthless at the same time. Now, I am free of him. Thank you again.

anonymous Jan 7, 2016 9:32pm

This has to be the most well written article on empaths and narcissists to date. My father was a narcissist and my mother a co-dependent empath. I married a narcissist in whom I’ve been trying to save since he was 13. I also finally mustered up the courage to leave him with my mother and daughter in tow. We divorced. We reconciled after I had moved on and I was in a good place. He had found the Lord. Hahaha. The circus started back up but he tried. He really did despite himself. He was there for me when my alcoholic father passed away and a few months later….left. My depression was terrible and he felt I was pushing him away and someone else gave him the attention I didn’t. Narcissistic ahole. It was devastating. A nightmare. I picked myself back up. Dusted off and began going back to school for a master’s in mental health counseling. However, I continue to dance with that devil off and on. I wished there was a cure for narcissism. I love that man and he loves me but in a completely different way. He’s so wounded from childhood. But I can’t help him. He has to help himself and every blue moon he might admit he has an issue but by the end of the conversation it’s because of me. Heartbreaking. I must love him from a distance and my now teenage daughter figured it out all on her own. She loves her daddy, but doesn’t want anyone like him. May it remain that way.
Thank you for reminding me of what my mind knows and my heart refuses to accept.

    anonymous Jan 9, 2016 5:52pm

    Wow! Your story mirrors mine…right down to the masters in counseling. I just let go of my narcissistic ex Thursday…after 10 years and one child together. I think the hardest part is watching our 8 year old deal with his lies and games.

anonymous Jan 7, 2016 1:56am

Damn girl! You just dropped it. Seriously you broke it all down so clearly. This writing contribution just majorly shifted something in me. Having difficulties releasing a past partner, aware of his narcissistic personality disorder (thanks to my therapist sister) as an empath it WAS feeling impossible to release his energetic grip. This really helped. All of it was true, just insane what you don’t see or connect while in it, thank you for this. Grateful for you sharing so concisely and wisely. Currently experiencing a sense of closure that just minutes ago seemed unimaginable. Guess I found exactly what I was searching for… with love and blessings for a beautiful 2016. Ps. First time I ever felt so inspired I needed to comment. Look forward to exploring more of your insights!

anonymous Jan 5, 2016 3:19pm

I'd love to see an article which unpacks the concept of an "empath" – I thought this was a made-up word used in Star Trek to describe an alien (Dr Deeanna Troy) who could feel people's feelings and read their thoughts. I'm not a clinician, however I am an abuse survivor and the adult child of an alcoholic family.

My own capacity to read and feel the feelings of others has been both a gift and a curse, and I would not use the word "empath" as a compliment to myself. To me it suggests compulsive caretaking behaviour motivated by the need to avoid the intense feelings of shame and self-loathing that come from unresolved traumas of certain kinds, particularly early childhood traumas that interfered with attachment. The conscious experience of compulsive caretaking is a profound sense of relief, security, and worthiness: it feels damn good, while its shadow spells "toxic" on the wall behind you.

A spiritual or emotional journey which has as its endpoint the goal of compassion, autonomy and generosity will have to transcend the empath, while absorbing its teachings of sensitivity, concern, and genius for reading emotional dynamics in individuals and groups. Caretaking motivated by need is neither generosity nor compassion, and it has an addictive quality in the moment. Investigating the difference is an important piece of work for people who now describe themselves as "empaths". I have much higher hopes for you, though I celebrate your quest to understand yourself.

anonymous Jan 5, 2016 11:29am

I think you could call me an "empath"… I don't think it is SO black and white… I think we do need each other the empath and the narcissist… I think our job is to find the strength and balance to mirror and love without judgement… A narcissist need to feel loved… it's a kind of hollowness that makes an narcissist… if you can love and care for the both of you then it's possible to live happily in such a relationships…. You need to know your boundaries well and not subcomp to self pity… Stop all negativity and blaming we can all just be responsible for our own feelings and happiness…. We need to be able to fawn one another….❤️

    anonymous Jan 6, 2016 8:13pm

    You obviously have no idea what are you talking about or if you are truly an empath you are still blinded and in the very early stage of the relationship with narcissist.(it seems to me that you are the narcissists in hiding here)
    That is EXACTLY how Narcissist traps their victims"I need to be loved but I am so hurt and hollow inside because my mom and dad never loved me and they abused me and i am so smart and handsome and great in every possible way"
    If they were only just people with one PERSONALITY DISORDER(which by the way has no cure or a pill)but they are pathological liars,gamblers,alcoholics,aggressive,selfish,destructive,toxic,heartless,useless human beings not capable of caring or loving anything or anyone.BTW Narcissistic personality disorder is just a fancy name for a sociopath!!
    Yes, unconditional love is the the way anyone should love,but even if you just read the ABC's of the narcissist on internet, you should know they can not love at all.That is what they are all about,no ability to love,no empthy in them at all.
    This is not about "blaming" another person,this is about recognizing and never- ever getting into a long term relationship with the worst possible personality disorder that ruins lives of sensitive,loving, caring and yes insecure people.
    The reason why your post is upsetting is because you should not put a crap like this for young and insecure people to see and make them believe if they just try harder they can make it better.
    I would tell them: learn about the signs,go to professional to confirm the diagnosis and run for your LIFE!!!

anonymous Jan 4, 2016 5:31pm

This was a very interesting article to come across at this particular moment in my life when I have been exposed to narcissistic personalities galore- my mother, my ex And his new wife who makes him look like an amature, a landlord,
I dont think anyone can claim they are an empath,but can claim they are empathetic.
If one is familiar with the narcissistic Pattern- that in the beginning of the relationship the narcissist will be your mirror image with an uncanny ability to see and play on your weakness to lure you in. once the idealization phase is finished the facade begins to fall away. frankly anyone can be sucked in.
actions speak louder than words.
yoga teacher or psychiatrist, the best teacher in this situation is experience. by God do you learn.

anonymous Dec 28, 2015 10:58am

Reading this, I’ve just realised that I may have recently had a lucky escape from this type of relationship. He broke up with me last week, in a very callous way (in a packed restaurant after drinking two bottles of expensive wine (I was paying). I am broken and wounded, gave him so much in terms of emotional and other things. Feel a glimmer of hope because I know that I’ve been given a lucky escape. Watch out for these people.

anonymous Dec 27, 2015 8:58pm

The irony of this supposed yin/yang comparison is that we are actually comparing two sides of the same coin. While the empath describes his/her monstrous narcissistic partner and all the ways that the blaming narcissist must be viewed as the victim, the “empath” is actually blaming the narcissist for being manipulative and explaining all the ways one (like herself) has been victimized by the narcissist. Also, when people are “caretakers” or “healers” in relationship they function so from the very same insecure place that the narcissist functions: from the lack of self. The mentality is, “I give and I give and I give everything so that you’ll love me and SEE me and so I can heal you and be your savior!” A pretty control-based and narcissistic agenda, if you ask me. The bottom line is– both “empaths” and narcissists lack a sense of self when up close and personal with others and both are terrified of abandonment and in turn seek control over the partners in different ways. My advice? Get into balance. Give and take. Stop blaming and/or losing self in relationships to others. Good luck!

anonymous Dec 22, 2015 11:36am

Wow!!! Thank you so much Elephant Journal!! This one article just brought so much clarity and healing for me!!

anonymous Dec 19, 2015 12:04am

Narcissism has a “domino effect”, and, like gravity, really sucks. If, we don’t fall, we won’t fly!

anonymous Dec 16, 2015 6:41pm

Attraction between a narcissist and ANYONE is toxic.

anonymous Dec 9, 2015 3:34am

I think I am in one of these scenarios, reading this (I am the empath). It's draining and emotionally exhausting, and the only "rewards" you reap are from building up the Narcissist. The Narcissist never reciprocates. I don't know what to do to get out.

anonymous Dec 7, 2015 6:00pm

Have lived 12years with a narcissist. I finally had enough. Felt I was suffocating. Lost so many friends and relationships with family along the way. As soon as I got out everyone came back into my life. Talk about being humbled and experiencing grace. What I have learned is that if you align with your authentic self the worlds around you opens up so many amazing things to bring you back. What I had experienced for nearly a year is effectively the gone girl movie. Being character assassinated in so many ways. Got me to the point where I tried to tap out. What I then experienced was unconditional love. The essence of who I was prior and who I am now. Not the religious version but the awesome authentic conscious essence that exists. The pain of getting out was unbearable but the life that I have now is beyond words. About to go to court tomorrow to challenge her in relation to property settlement. All debt in my name as she couldn't get a loan. Left me and my kids with $100,000 of debt and won't take any responsibility. Lesson for me is as an empath don't be a rescuer. Thanks for the post.

anonymous Dec 6, 2015 7:27pm

This article was not only a beacon of accuracy, but a pinnacle of validation for my own five year relationship with an individual that most definitely qualifies as a malignant narcissist. Despite the opposing views that have attempted to relegate the substance of this article, I found and felt this article to be extremely empowering. Having just finished up the arduous, deprecating, and soul sickening process of dissolving a relationship with a covert narcissist…. Literally taking my last big step, to free myself, via complete honesty…and genuine intentions. Just hours before I stumbled across this illustration of what my experience has been- start to finish… Without acception to any detail depicted above. Mirrored exactly and completely… As if the author was writing my autobiographical experience of the last five years. I truly had hope…. though wittled down to almost non existing…. there was still a flicker of it…. Even up till 48 hours ago. However, though genuine in it’s precipice, I knew, that hope, was also an unhealthy tether to one of the most passionately destructive experiences and connections I have ever been a party to. Culminating from a place of broken self worth, and unhealthy decisions, gaps and voids from childhood and boundarieless empathic abilities…. I found this article to be extremely cathartic. Synchronistic in an uncannily timeless perfection. Thank you Alex. You are a blessing to a cross section of life, and a uniquely powerful community, for which not enough information/guidance and attention is bestowed.

anonymous Dec 2, 2015 8:28am

Alex, this is a word by word description oh what just happened to me over the past few years. I've seen people come on this site and criticize maybe further descriptions of the actual conditions. I believe they are just angry that they saw a little of themselves ..and they were threatened by it. Spoken like a true narcissist, but that is not for me to decide really.Most people who read this article see the entire progression almost as if you had been there in the relationship. My fav part is that eventually the empath takes on narcissistic traits. This is true! I am actually seeking therapy because of my relationship and one of the things we are working on is spotting some of the narcissistic tendencies in. Notice I didn't say "left in me by her…or the relationship", no, I will not blame in order to look or feel superior as that was never the goal.We all have a bit of narcissim in us, it all depends on how long we can hold the ego at bay, or what triggers it. In my humble and very simple opinion, it's about the difference between seeing the bigger picture in a relationship as opposed to the small pointless issues that bring about bickering for control over the power in the relationship.I wonder if anyone else had issues where their narcissistic partner would take everything you say and reinterpret your words so as to create a fictional point of view from which they could win an argument? Most times, it was an argument and not a discussion. Eventually, those were my triggers and I would let lose too…I failed and I apologize for it. But the narcissist never apologizes, not even when its too late. They will kick you when you're down and apologizing. Most importantly, they will project/attribute every aspect of their personality…to your words and actions. Some days the made up fantasies based on my words were so outrageous, there was nothing I could say because clearly the fantasy was better and more fulfilling than the truth. I am an empath and I love her and I'm dying to get back together….but what she gives is not love. Its like doing something good: Are you doing it because its right…or because it fulfills your selfish needs? She would never listen because she wasn't listening for my sake…she was protecting her power at all times. As you said, it falls into a vicious cycle from that point on. You may ask…well did you listen? I'm not perfect and can't say I did sometimes. Di I also misinterpret things? Yes. But the difference is I could stop and see I was getting things wrong…but by then the fire had been fueled and the narcissistic rage was not backing down until it destroyed everything in its path…and blamed it on someone else( namely , me). I used to think it was just a simple communication breakdown, but it clearly is not. I suggest that anyone else in this position know that there is only one way out: Leave and seek council. Who knows, maybe both of you decide to get help on your own, work through the issues and decide someday to get back together. But the person has to choose to get better, and you cant change them, or manipulate them or else you are no better. As is, its not going to work and you are just hitting yourself constantly. Obviously, before you start pointing fingers, I encourage at everyone to look deep into themselves first and as always seek some form of therapy, counseling, meditation,yoga, or whatever life activity that can bring you peace. hey, watching a game works too, but actively try to search for that peace..

anonymous Nov 28, 2015 11:22pm

Thank you so much for writing this. If I had read it and been able to accept it in 2003, my life would have turned out quite differently. I also assume, that like most empaths, you have a long emotional memory which makes it hard for 'us' to get over things.

anonymous Nov 25, 2015 7:24pm

What pisses me off is how our gender norms SET US UP to fall into this trap and how EASY it is not to fall into this trap with just a little bit of education. I can so totally relate to this article. After one such toxic relationship, I got my hands on Sandra Brown’s books and research. She has one audiotape titled “intensity” in which she outlines over a dozen reasons why these relationships are intense that have nothing to do with love. I listened to that ONCE and it totally snapped me out of this syndrome FOREVER. I highly recommend her books, such as Women Who Love Psychopaths.

anonymous Nov 25, 2015 6:40am

As someone said above, We're not the monsters you describe us as. Also: What you are describing is not only narcissistic but more psychopathic, what is also not necessarily inhuman.
You said, that the Conterpart, the Antagonist, the 'Narcissist' you described here should be left alone because he would'nt care about any effort of the empath to be as kind and understanding as always.

Should a Yoga-teacher really say that someone is not worthy of love? Because that is what you basically just said.

I am a female with sociophobic, psychopathic and narcissistic tendencies, my partner is an empath and we both are very aware of our situation but also know, that we are not only attracted to each other due to the fact, that we can give each other what we especially need but also because of our very own attributes as individuals. I can speak out the darkness in my head and he can have someone who understands him when he is tired of people drowning him from his energy. We as your 'antagonists' are able to and worthy of love ans we also can havesomething to give, we also have a value.
It can work and there is nothing to condamn about a certain kind of people because you one time didn't get along with one of them.

anonymous Nov 23, 2015 3:20am

Garrymaurice broke it down rather eloquently. A more apt title for this article would be The Toxic Attraction Between Victim and Abuser. But perhaps referring to oneself as a victim has finally become pase.

I do long for the days of unbiased articles. It’s quite clear in the author’s writing that she’s still pretty raw about her experience, and by labeling herself “empath” she gets to be the hero of her own story. Kudos to you, Amy, for finding your power and rising from the ashes! But please, with this power, go forth and make yourself happy in this life, instead of wasting it writing ill-informed, passive-aggressive articles to act as a bitter pill for your ex-lover to swallow. If he’s half as bad as you claim, he’s not worth the pennies per click you made by publishing this defamatory ilk.

anonymous Nov 22, 2015 10:01am

I think i am married to one 🙁 wtf

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 12:55am

This has been so insightful. Thank you so much. You likely just helped me change my life b

anonymous Nov 12, 2015 8:23pm

Stumbled upon this article, wow! Describes my entire adulthood. First, during a relationship of 15 years where I was blessed with 3 children. I wanted it to work so bad, and since I saw individual growth from my spouse, I assumed things would get better. Until I realized that I was carrying him. He never took me nor the children into consideration. All of his decisions were such that would benefit him only. Counselors told me I should have made the decision to leave much sooner. Two years later, I entered into a new relationship with a family oriented man who treated me like a queen! All of the love and attention I had longed for were suddenly there. I even questioned the feeling since I had never experienced such kindness. However, the past three months I have noticed a change. Some of the very same traits as my ex. The attention stopped and the sense of entitlement increased. I am kicking myself and realize I am the common denominator and need to get out of this quickly. What I dont know is how to change. I dont know how to stop catering. When I commit, I give 100% of me. I just dont know how to be any different. And what’s crazy is that I am succesful in every other aspect of my life! Eveyone thinks I am the sh** and I live a great life, but this situation is tearing me apart.

anonymous Nov 11, 2015 9:36pm

Many domestic violence batterers are narcissists. So your article is essentially victim blaming. great message!

anonymous Nov 11, 2015 6:53pm

Thank you for writing this article. It doesn’t really matter what label you place on destructive people. You can call them narcissists. You can call them sociopaths. You can call them psychopaths. Who really cares? Not the people on the receiving end of their BS. Yes, BS. There is no degree attainable that can explain their behavior or the mess they leave the rest of us with. You cannot seriously want the rest of us to believe that an “empath” (and that term was used loosely to represent decent human beings WITH empathy, not doormats…thank you very much!) is an enabler. What you are failing to understand is that “empaths” don’t see it coming. I don’t think they set out to fix the narcissists either. I think they want to help them, even protect them. They know the person is wounded. What they don’t know, or they would have run for their lives, is that the narcs/socios/psychos WILL ruin them. I have witnessed this with someone I love very much. He is in ruin, and he stands by her no matter what. He is isolated. No family. No friends. No school. No job. No home. No nothing! I have literally watched this happen and have been powerless to help. If she hadn’t abandoned her journals I would be sitting here wondering wtf just happened. I know now. It’s really a scary thing to really see into her mind. It’s not the info she would give her therapist, it’s the real her…it’s terrifying. So for all you therapists and analysts, you need to understand that you only know what they tell you. That’s not real. The real truth is horrifying.

anonymous Nov 11, 2015 3:48pm

Time for everyone to claim they are the empath, and how much of an asshole their ex was.

anonymous Nov 11, 2015 2:41pm

Hilarious some of the comments here embracing being ‘the victim’ position with a zest. A total Pity party. This article is awful , cheap, weak and … narcissistic. Totally buying into the sense of ‘poor me’ and devoting themselves to painting the other person as ‘the bad one’. An empath is a narcissist that hasn’t recognised their own vanity yet and so uses their borrowed title to to create a sense of entitlement, and then blame everyone else. This article does stand as a perfect example of that.

An, alleged, empath can easily control and manipulate situations using any kind of emotional terrorism method, or just playing victim. Like in this article, and by the sounds of it, the lives of many of the comment posters too.

an interesting exercise is to read the article again replacing

’empath’ with, ‘Drama Queen’

and ‘narcissist with, ‘someone just like me’

and see how that reads. really I urge you to try it. it can’t do any harm and might cure you of the current plague of empath delusion.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 9:51pm

Too often the word “empath” has become a cop out term for people unwilling to deal with the fact they are actually “co-dependent”. By carrying the “empathy” badge they absolve themselves from personal responsibility of dealing with their psychological condition and are doomed to WILLINGFULLY repeating the same mistakes…

It’s not empathy that gets you into trouble with Narcissists, it’s a lack of self worth and the belief that someone else’s happiness = your happiness. And therefore, failing to set and stick to personal boundaries a person with a healthy self esteem would set. People with a healthy self esteem and who set boundaries that reflect it, slam the door shut in the Narcissists face, pretty quickly.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 9:31pm

This perfectly described I’ve gone through with a couple men. I finally figured out that I’m an empath, and I had noticed narcissistic traits in them, but I never knew there was a link. Thanks for this article! It’s nice knowing I’m not alone in these experiences.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 9:16am

Empath is also a buzzword and not all Empaths are authentic either.

If people started to stop trying to be something or label themselves we would stop dividing our consciousness. Just a thought.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 8:56am

A great article. I see it as a two way thing that both the narcissist and the empath have unconscious drivers that take them to where they do not want to go. I gave a talk two weeks ago on a similar topic “Givers and Takers”. It starts off with both getting something out of the relationship but then both teach the other how to treat them until it is too late. That is why we must learn the lesson or we will repeat it. My web site link will take you to a recoding of the talk I gave. Hope you find it as useful as this article.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 8:09am

I was married to a narcissistic person for 11 years. I discovered this 5 years ago after the death of my father, it was a wake up call for me and I suddenly didn’t see things the same way. As if a veil lifted from my eyes. I also discovered that I’m an intuitive empath and that explained why I always felt drained. This article is so spot on as to what I lived for all those years. I was constantly building him up, stroking his ego and when all was said and done I was just a shadow of a perso. I became the victim and in his eyes I was way to needy. I realized I could no longer live like this and I set my boundaries and drew my lines and he, well let’s just say he didn’t like it and it was very easy for him to walk out. I was left broken with two young children to take care of. This relationship has taught me how strong I am and how reselient my soul is. I am currently in the process of a divorce and there’s no looking back for me. To all fairness to him we were great in the beginning which it always is, and we have two wonderful children together. The rest is just history.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 7:50am

If we are going to call the narcissist by name let’s call the empath what it is… A co-dependant. It is an equally dysfunctional personality type who also has received damage occurring in childhood, most likely by a

Narcissistic parent. Let’s not deny that it is because of co-dependence and a deep lack of self worth that someone would choose to be in a relationship with someone who is incapable of emotional healthy love for another person. You can call yourself an empath. But don’t use the proper terminology for a narcissist and not for yourself. The so called “empath” requires just as much psychological help as the narcissist. In this type of relationship both participants equally play pathological roles and some do so with lasting, dysfunctional success. . Please encourage others to seek psychological help rather than label their partners as the damaged ones and not themselves. People who want to fix others are not seeking their true souls purpose. They are doormats, who lack a sense of self, sometimes living with a deep sense of denial at the damage that was done to them. Please read Ross Rosenbergs book “the human magnet syndrome” and seek proffessional help if you find yourselves in these types of relationships.

anonymous Nov 10, 2015 1:55am

This article speaks so close to my life that it’s actually funny. For me it took the Narcissist to end the relationship before I could understand what was happening. The thing is.. he was one of the nicest Narcissists I have ever met.

anonymous Nov 6, 2015 9:10pm

Empath, Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, whatever name anyone wants to give it really doesn’t matter. It whatever it is destroys people and families and causes suicide. It took my life away from me. It killed and buried my child! Victim, if that is what you want to give me a title of, I don’t care. Fix it! Fix my 3 remaining children. Help me get my children back! Bring my dead child back to me! Can you do that? What my ex did was nothing short of murder. I don’t really care anymore why he did everything he did or what name to give him and his horrendous deeds that destoryed my family. I just want someone to figure out how to make sure other men can’t do to their spouses and children what mine did. The descriptions of narcissts and socopath and psychopath all fit him to a tee! So which one is he? Does it really even matter? He ruined people and there is no coming back from that!!!!

anonymous Nov 4, 2015 8:49pm

Hmmm. What did you study? References?

anonymous Nov 4, 2015 4:46pm

WOW! Did this article open my eyes! It perfectly describes my life in general, I sat here reading it with my mouth hanging open. Thank God there aren’t many flies right now! LOL! I’m still processing the info.

anonymous Nov 2, 2015 8:06am

The narcisist is my brother and I am the empath. I just figured it all out. Thank you.

anonymous Nov 1, 2015 9:41pm

I really appreciate your article. Setting aside whether this was a narcissist and an Empath relationship or someone with NpD or psychopathy and someone with low self esteem looking for validation the core of this article discusses the destructive nature of this type of relationship. I would know I was in one and it almost destroyed my sense of self. The best thing was getting out of it and rebuilding my sense of self and understanding the core nature of what she was doing (gas lighting, jealousy games, and general avoidant behaviour) which caused my anxious behaviour to supersede my normal identity. Read Attached by Amir Levine to understand secure attachment theory along w anxious and avoidant attachments. Fully touches on the narcissistic vampiric suck and why empaths or anxious people give it. So I’m not sure people find this article so dangerous because she says “narcissist” and not correctly saying psyco or socio-path. And it seems shameful to indicate that an Empath is just a low level narcissist. First off the author explains that it’s not for one to blame the other but to take responsibility for their own choices. And secondly we all have some kind of love of narcissism it’s on a spectrum. Ego and confidence can be tied to a healthy sense of self or low range narcissism. It’s when the wounded person aka the “narcissist”tries to gather sources (the empaths or nice people of the world or the people yearning to fix someone rather than themselves) and devalues them for their own sake – that’s the dangerous type of narcissism that r author was clearly speaking about. Great share. Thank you for writing this.

anonymous Oct 24, 2015 11:56pm

"your studies and ressearch"? And what exactly would those consist of besides wikipedia articles? your assumptions are unfounded and theoretically incorrect and out of line with any psychological theories.

anonymous Oct 24, 2015 6:47pm

"Empathy" is a virtue that exists to a lesser or greater degree in most of us. Someone who self-identifies as an "Empath" is obviously at the high-end of the scale. At the opposite extreme is the "Narcissist," or better described as a clinical Sociopath. For a Sociopath, the rest of Humanity only exists to serve his or her purpose. For an Empath, he or she only exists to serve the rest of Humanity. I bet no Narcissist ever dove on a live hand-grenade to save his buddies!

anonymous Oct 24, 2015 3:41pm

Oh. Wow. Yes. This. I have been struggling with this for years – I felt hurt and wounded and needed validation and was afraid I was the one who was the narcissist. I did finally break free – and those around me thought I shouldn't have done it, but I started to feel better once I did. Better, but not great – I still have healing to do. Four or five months doesn't undo 30 years of exposure or ten years of amped-up challenges. Really some good stuff to think about, here.

anonymous Oct 20, 2015 4:44pm

Narcissists and "empaths"—a misnomer, but generally applicable enough to be acceptable for these purposes—have more psychological similarity than difference between themselves, and are each far more similar to each other than to most other archetypes. The anecdotal disharmony between these minor behavioral classes is a simple result of adaptive cognitive dissonance reduction – a core trait of all types, and wildly varied. Clinically speaking, "empaths" are basically lower-functioning and less self-cognizant narcissists, and vice versa. The distinction between the two—ultimately amounting to a difference in trait scalars—is not significant enough to allow for any meaningful juxtaposition or behavioral extrapolation such as attempted by this article.

Author, please continue your research into human behavior – but dig much, much further. Nobody is truly qualified to comment usefully within this field until far beyond the university-Masters/high-post-grad level of knowledge. Pseudo-scientific gossip woven around a core of anecdotal speculation does more harm to the behavioral science vernacular than anything else; it is anti-educational.

    anonymous Oct 20, 2015 5:38pm

    This is a really interesting comment. Would you be at all interested in explaining this in more detail? I think it would be super helpful in educating our readers further. If so, you can submit here – Ed.

anonymous Oct 20, 2015 4:23pm

one must understand it takes all kinds of people to make up ones life. if we run away ever time we run in to some one that has been beat up and learn to do the same to others. that is all you do, till you run out of people. could be your parents sisters brothers family members mate kids boss people you work with. Empath is in ever one not just in one person, so is being a narcissist. But if you can see this in another and in your self that is where you start. no you can’t alone fix them, you can’t fix your self either. But what you can do is step back and see the truth and understand you will need help. If the person that is in pain or making you feel pain is not welling to go for help with you than you must keep up some walls to not get knot down ever time they pull that stuff on you. guess what I’m saying is life is hard and we all move in and out of these head trips. But running away is not the answer or is fixing any one! you can not feel for ever one you can understand some one better by putting your self on their path but its up to you if you wish to stay on it with them. The Lord said show them by your actions, giving them a book may be is a good idea. many that have been abuse as kids are so deep in pain they are lost. they may only need a light to find their way back. Be in the world not of the world the Lord said. the one thing that I see most these days, is some one that plays games, its unfair life should be fair, and they get you to forget that life is unfair to us all not just them. But you make your own life and its up to us all to be the teacher and the learner . you don’t have to run away, just step back!

anonymous Oct 15, 2015 3:41pm

Explains a lot of truth, but I think different scenarios make some of the things in here incorrect. I think the description of the empath is also taken way too far. Not everyone is a pushover. I never felt like a victim or felt insecure. I fought back and got out.

There’s more I think about the empath being portrayed as weak and spineless….but I don’t want to rant. Not everyone wants someone they need to fix. I think most people actually avoid people if they know they have issues because we all do on some level. I do believe the empath may begin to take on narcessistic traits because after my narcessist, I see narcessism in myself that wasn’t there before. It’s like a contagious plague that is unavoidable unless you are the pushover spineless who stays with the narcessist. To take on the trait is the only way to protect yourself from ever being targeted, hurt, or damaged by the same one or new ones. It becomes a defense mechanism and yes, a vicious cycle. Which is sad. But I think I came out with just enough narcessism to not be overbearing but allows me to protect myself from ever having to go thru another person like that ever again.

anonymous Oct 14, 2015 1:31pm

Thank you so much to the author of this article! After years of therapy, it was actually my acupuncturist who suggested I look into the studies between a narcissist and an empath. I sobbed reading this because it was like a condensed version of my marriage, it described everything I experienced to a tee. I’ve struggled for years to understand the toxic dynamic of my marriage. It feels so nice to know, I’m not alone! I feel like this simple article has helped put so many things I to perspective for me. I cannot express my gratitude for someone who is willing to share something so personal in an effort to help heal others. Thank you!

anonymous Oct 12, 2015 9:57pm

needed to hear this.. ;(

anonymous Oct 6, 2015 6:39am

I am an empath, but mostly described by people a "very/too nice person". Sometimes I tend to think they only say this for the sake of small talk or sugar coating.
My ex left me two months ago. He was a deeply wounded, insecure, love-seeking little kid inside. But he played completely differently: a charming, always funny, being in the centre of attention guy.
We met at work.
Lesson number 1: never ever build relationship at work!
So anyways, we clicked almost immediately. We had long chats after work, we went home together etc. I thought (my ego thought) he showed his real self only to me, only i knew how fragile he was. So of course I cherished him every way. A few months later we got closer. Physically speaking. We didn't wanna make an issue in front of the colleagues so we kept quiet about us. Well, i thought we both did.
Soon he started to ask for favours, even money. A lot of money. Before that i had never lent money to anyone. It's just not my thing. But when he asked me, i gave it to him immediately without having a second thought.
Then he started to change. Many times I caught him lying to me and a girlfriend also turned up whom i didn't know about. The girl sent me an email from his email address asking not to help him anymore because it made her uncomfortable. The whole world collapsed in me. But of course he had an explanation to everything and i forgave him again and again.
I bought him food, clothes, looked a better job for him (he never made an interview though) and was always be there for him.
Deep inside i knew, i felt something was not ok, but could not leave him. I wanted to "fix" him, wanted him a better life, I encouraged him to at least attend on his classes at the Uni. But he gave up even on his studies saying he couldn't manage working and studying together. The truth was that he had always been a very lazy person. He always looked for short cuts, easy ways.
I never stopped loving him and believing in him.
Almost a year had gone.
He became obviously bored of me, looked for a new challenge, (well, i had never been a challenge for him to be honest), a new fun. He got bored of my seriousness, my organized way of living, my hard working attitude and my preaches too i guess.

When he came to broke up with me, he did that after spending the whole afternoon with me, sleeping with me, eating my food. And he said those words and left. Since then he has never said even "hello" to me at work.
I found out that during our friend/relationship he told weird stories about me at work, ha made fun of me, and he even bullied me openly for what he got formally warned.
He put me down, i lost all my self esteem, i felt invaluable. He humiliated me openly.
Now he's been flirting with another girl at work and i have to watch that every day. And what i see is so familiar.
However what happened is one of the most painful experience in my life, and however I have lost some weight and i have problems with sleeping too, I am still grateful that he left me and saved me from himself.
But i cannot deny, I still care for him, worry about him and yes, miss him. Maybe I still love him.

So all in all, the lesson has been learnt. The only thing i am sorry for is this useless one year from my life and losing the faith that i ever will be able to trust someone again.
All i did that i loved, Unconditionally. Was it worth?

    anonymous Oct 12, 2015 12:16pm

    It seems to me this guy is a psychopath. Dont blame yourself or feel sorry for you, You did what any other empath would do. There are good people out there, You dont need to be afraid, just be careful.

anonymous Oct 3, 2015 8:52am

I understand this site and the author to be well-intentioned, but this is a very destructive and misinformed article. Though it gives a preliminary disclaimer regarding narcissism as a serious mental condition and an often misused term, the author is unwittingly perpetuating that very problem.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, like all personality disorders, is a much more complex illness than the standardly cited criteria, let alone that which has been detailed here. Based on the information provided there is very little reason to believe the antagonist in the described relationship dynamic has NPD at all; they could just as easily have a few selfish traits and have been in strong denial regarding their relationship commitment; in turn bringing about insidious behaviour born of discontentment and frustration that would never have surfaced otherwise.

The term 'narcissism' has been culturally re-appropriated to define anyone displaying pervasive ego, selfish disrespect and a fragile self-esteem. This is an extremely incomplete picture that demonises a myriad of people; incriminating anyone who happens to make an equally fragile self-proclaimed 'empath' feel worthless. Let's be clear here: calling yourself an 'empath' is tantamount to biased self-flattery. Who are we to say we're qualified to diagnose ourselves as angel-like creatures akin to Cinderella? Such a claim doesn't come from a place of security that's for sure. Paralleling the significance of the term 'empath' and it's definition, in this context, to a serious illness such as NPD is bordering on propaganda. 'Empath' is only a loosely acknowledged in the mental health industry and any proclamation that it exists as a mirror to narcissism is patently false.

The picture being painted by the author is much closer to that of a psychopath: narcissism isn't characterised by manipulation, emotional sabotage and predatory behaviour; psychopathy is. Psychopaths have narcissistic traits, but the ones primarily addressed in this article are on the fringe of NPD, not at the centre. But don't get me wrong: while closer to psychopathy, the description doesn't adequately describe that either. Not even close.

From the article:

"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."

The author of this article is a yoga instructor, not a mental health professional, and the above sentence—among many others—is clear evidence of their lack of professional understanding. First of all, a key component to narcissism is that they lack a conscious self-awareness of their problems; second of all, if they experience 'pain' of any description they will use it as a means to bring attention TO themselves, not away! Blaming someone else for 'pain' (whatever that means) simply isn't indicative of narcissism. Could a narcissist be capable of deflective blame? Sure. But to spout the idea that it's a defining characteristic is extremely toxic, incriminating and flat-out wrong.

True NPD sufferers are people very easy to sympathise with. They have no concrete sense of self-worth, usually due to cognitive rupturing at a young age, and end up forced to live as a projection of their idealised self in order to function. Note that the word 'forced' has been used carefully: the kind of experience leading to true NPD leaves very little room for resistance. They are depressive, self-loathing and have unrealistically high standards for themselves. They lack empathy because empathy comes from an authentic position in one's personality, and their personality is largely a fabricated one existing mostly in the eyes of other people. They can be difficult and selfish romantic partners, but spreading the idea that their MO is to emotionally destroy other people is preposterous and socially damaging. Some NPD sufferers are in active recovery from crisis, and ignorance such as this vilifies anyone honest enough to share their condition.

The fact this article has been seen over 2 million times is deeply disconcerting. Though I don't have anywhere near the exposure of a site such as this, I will be writing a formal response in an effort to counter this kind of misinformed self-validating and superficial message with some empirical-based truth. People suffering personality disorders deserve far better treatment than this.

    anonymous Oct 3, 2015 10:24am

    Hi there – we welcome this kind of response and dialogue! Please submit to and include a note that your submission is a response to this article. Thanks! – Eds.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2015 3:37am

    this answer helped me a lot! Thank you for this

    anonymous Oct 14, 2015 6:43pm

    Apparently you have one of these mental disorders. Your stance is very critical of some one who's been hurt by a person with no true empathy. I read her article and was shocked of how common that very pattern is. I've been there. And she nailed it. The only person demonizing themselves is the narcissist. The one on the receiving side of the stick is stating what happened. And yes, it is demonic in nature. That's why so many get irreparably damaged. Malignant narcissists are absolute trouble. You cannot NOT be hurt if you get entangled with one. Which is often the case, opposites attract in this context. Are there degrees of narcissism? Every one portrays a degree of narcissism. But a pathological narcissist, especially if they are covert narcissist, is perhaps the most dangerous creature on earth when it comes to the damage they cause. Yes, we finally get to the point of feeling sympathy for these vampires because they are a walking, talking, living disasters; it's very tragic. Yet the world is full of them. Much more than is officially reported. Much much more. People are to be warned. I'm a male that has lived the ten year nightmare of living with a woman who is a covert cerebral narcissist. And she's full blown. But there was no way I would ever have known in the beginning. As common for narcissist, her seducing ability is actually a form of genius. I thought she was the most caring person on earth. It was all faked. She's had three marriages where she uses the same MO to abandon her prey. Unlike a psychopath, a narcissist can just discard and leave. They only seek to completely destroy their target when the target has put them in danger of being outed. Never out a narcissist. You'll live to regret it. Some don't live, a narcissistic abuse has caused way too many discarded partners of the narcissist to end their life. That's how serious this problem is. Destruction is inevitably going to take place to some degree if you have the misfortune of dedicating your life to someone like this that you thought loved you. And we have not even discussed the children of a narcissist. My ex-narc lost her three children in court because the biological father revealed her true colors. Learn about a narcissism and safeguard yourself…and spread the bad news.

    anonymous Oct 15, 2015 3:57pm

    I study psychopathy and I too found errors in this article that suggested more of a psychopath than a narcessist. And the empath seemed to be written over exaggerate let and as if an empath is only a weak spineless person who has no mental disorder of their own or any cognitive ability to stand up for themselves or even understand when they’re being abused or that the person they’re in a relationship obviously has deep issues. And yes the empath could in fact be more of an antagonizer which in a relationship with a psychopath or narcessist, is only going to add fuel to the fire.

    Very nice response to the article. I found your reply to be more accurate and informative than the article.

      anonymous Oct 29, 2015 4:25am

      I am at present recovering from a complete breakdown and self discovery. I always knew our family was eccentric and my dad was a very intelligent man whom expected excellence and total obedience from us and my mum. The article is so close to the termoil I endured as a child, what I failed to understand for the last 43 years that in fact both my parents are narrcacistic, my brother too followed a lot of the traits. I am not going to go on the blame game, but the article very eloquently points out the severe mental damage done to those around narrcacistic people. For those who are not, it is rare that we would discover how much we have been emotionally drained and exploited until something life changing shows us the game. We do not think the same way and never will, it is this reason why narcissistic people flourish unchallenged. As for them showing signs of being a psychopath, I agree but wonder if they are just lower down the spectrum, a true narcissist is capable of empathy, but tends to use this to their advantage, to me that shows a lack of morality in keeping with a psychopath.

    anonymous Nov 10, 2015 1:35am

    The author may wish to add to her education by doing a post Graduate Certificate in Emotional Education (PGCEE held at Atlow Mill Centre for Emotional Education over 9 weekends) and if they feels up for it to continue on to do a Masters. These are Experiencial courses via Derby University; rather than theoretical only type courses in psychology or pathology feeding suede science type courses; so thier understanding of the disfunctional aspects of being an ’empath’ will become clear and can be explored. It seems that the author wants to learn and share thier knowledge but I believe this article currently communicates more misinformation and could provide someone with justification to blame others for their problems rather than heading off to get the help they need.

    I like several of the other comments highlighting the problem with this article.

    As an asside, An area you may wish to explore is that of ‘constructs psychology’ and also ‘insecure attachment’ as somthing to do before the next PGCEE starts 🙂

    anonymous Dec 1, 2015 9:58am

    I agree that the article has some flaws, specifically the verbiage used, “narcissist”, “empath”, which are personality traits that are not easily grouped into such black-and-white thinking.

    Many psychological traits are not grouped so accurately, but are spectrums.
    The traits of the “narcissist” can be quantified based on the defense mechanisms he uses to cover up for real emotional pain he feels. The “narcissist” seems to have many traits found in borderline personality disorder such as an innate fear of abandonment (“wounded”), as well as using defense mechanisms such as projection (where the projector attributes his own feelings to others, he may be angry and he says that his partner is the angry one), as well as projective identification (where the projection surfaces as real responses, thus truly making the partner angry). These defense mechanisms are real, often unconscious, responses to real perceived emotional conflict. You cannot state that this person is a “narcissist” or “empath” due to the presence of these defense mechanisms. These defenses are real and normal responses that normal individuals will often exhibit in everyday life. It is only when these mechanisms become pathological and interfere with social or interpersonal functioning that they are deemed a pathological or unhealthy response.

    These defenses are particularly tricky in borderline personality disorder (BPD) because it results in a self-fulfilling prophecy, where they fear abandonment, get angry at the perceived abandonment, project that anger to their partner, the partner absorbing the anger and projecting it back (projective identification), and thus the relationship ends, fulfilling the idea that abandonment is real.

    Other words in this article used to describe the lack of empathy exhibited by the “narcissist” can be attributable to traits of anti-social personality disorder.

    It is not easy to diagnose someone without a full psychological work up, it is just important to note that these issues in relationships are stemming from pathologic defense mechanisms, which can be seen in anyone. I have been in relationships myself where I exhibit these defense mechanisms, as well as had them against me. It does not make me or my partner have a diagnosis of any psychological disorder, personality disorder. They are defense mechanisms that are employed during times of emotional stress, and it is important to have a self-awareness of your emotions; why you are acting the way you are, and where your true pain is stemming from. This will help prevent this type of emotional conflict from ruining future relationships.

    [medical student completed psychiatry clerkships as well as significant psychiatry and psychology training].

anonymous Oct 2, 2015 8:29pm

I’m am empath and was in a relationship with a narcissistic personality. He’s actually the father of my daughter who at young age of 2 exhibits empath tendencies. Our only conversations are in regards to our daughter. He’s not around at all because I put my foot down repeatedly and let him know that I’m hip to his jive, at every turn. Since his primary interest is himself, he barely sees our daughter which has its cons but since she had empath tendencies, his lack of contact is probably in her best interest. Only time will tell.

anonymous Oct 2, 2015 7:29pm

Wow! Went through this, and was actually aware that it was happening. I thought I could help him. I was so wrong. Even worse, we were both addicts. In the end, he hurt me in the most despicable way. I was depressed for 2 years. Better now, but will never be the same.

anonymous Sep 30, 2015 10:06am

Great article! What a cluster fu*k of a situation!!! 🙁

anonymous Sep 27, 2015 2:55am

I just recently ended a 6 year relationship with a narcissist. It was so deep in. We have two children together.

This story seems to be fitting for too many people, it’s very tragic. These situations tear families apart, but in the end the result is hopefully peace.

I woke up one morning a few months ago and I thought I was going to die. 100 pounds. I lost 40 pounds in a year as a part of his struggle to control me. My body was shutting down and I was experiencing heart pain. I felt like my body was subconsciously trying to kill itself. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t feel, I wanted to dissappear, I was dying. I ended up in the ER with a severe kidney infection. I was DYING. BUT that’s when I started waking up.

The only thing I find not to be entirely true about this article, is that a narcissist walks away easily.

He abused me mentally and emotionally the entire relationship and towards the end, when he realized that he was losing control over me, the abuse got worse and took a turn towards physical abuse. He lost his mind, nearly killed himself and threatened to kill me.

It took every bit of my being, my soul… the last strength I had left in me to fight for my life. To fight for my respect. To fight for my soul which was dying along with my body. I’m 27 years old and I’m slowly recovering. It’s only been a month and I’m not sure how long it will take, but I am recovering, I can breathe, eat, sleep, cry, laugh and enjoy my beautiful children.

I can feel again, as I am not trying to absorb the pain and disfunction of another being. I can smell the morning and feel the sunset on my skin. It’s precious. I died and came back to life. I feel reborn.

anonymous Sep 27, 2015 2:40am

I used to have narcissistic traits as a younger woman, I changed a lot over the last 10 years and now I attract narcissistic men!

anonymous Sep 26, 2015 1:00pm

Fantastic writing – I have recently experienced the same conclusive thoughts after a somewhat similar experience. Its still painful to walk away, but we usually must. Thank you for the understanding x

anonymous Sep 22, 2015 2:35am

There are different types of narcissists. I was married to the worst kind, a cross between cerebral and malignant.He knew exactly what he was doing, the lies, the manipulation,the continuous verbal abuse,

the total lack of empathy and Intimacy. It has taken me 9 years to finally realise, this man is a cruel and evil Robot, with a human exterior and nothing at all inside.There is a great divide between empaths and narcissists. There is good, and there is evil…….ps I am not an empath, just an ordinary person with


anonymous Sep 21, 2015 9:54am

Narcissists? Empaths? How about co-dependents? The relationship dynamic you discuss sounds exactly like one between co-dependents – addicted to each other, the drama, and the cycle. True, usually one person has to break the cycle by identifying it and accepting that they cannot change the other; they must become willing to change the only thing they have the power to change – themselves. All you codependents that identified with the empathic personality need to go read Beattie's "Codependent No More."

anonymous Sep 17, 2015 9:06am

This is the greatest article I have ever, and maybe the greatest, I will ever read. I’ve been struggling for nine+ months to pinpoint the words to describe my current life situation and this hit the nail on the head so hard I literally felt relief in my breath when I finished reading it. Thank you!

anonymous Sep 16, 2015 1:43pm

Here is a shocker…maybe, just MAYBE both sides of the spectrum have good and bad things about them. The writer says at the beginning of the article that it is written from her point of view as an empathy, the narcissist side is not given. I am sure if this article was flipped and it was written from the narcissist point of view these comments would all be supporting the narcissist. Now….I WILL say this. The people who claim "depression" and "narcissism" go hand in hand have no clue. Depression is a disease and it affect everyone differently. I don't consider it a put down, though, because I don't think either a narcissist or empathy are bad people. Everyone copes with things on his/her level and the bashing a lot of people are doing on here to each other is shameful.

anonymous Sep 15, 2015 7:21pm

Thank you for this… your article popped up minutes after my ex paraded by my work with his latest fling. I happen to live on a very small island, which he made a day trip to visit… Seriously!? I wish I could explain details, but this is so right on for my relationship with him.

anonymous Sep 14, 2015 11:52pm

Thanks for enlightening article
This agrees completely

I took the kids and moved from their father in 2004
The following year, he meets an other woman and marries her
A woman he was cheating on me with

This woman is totally crazy
She runs his errands and know everything about me and my family

She sent me an email and introduce herselves- she wanted us to get to know
She wanted a good relationship – she would not take from me my kids she wrote

They have sent letters around to all government agencies, child welfare, school and kindergarten
They have close contact with my sisters and family gatherings with them

The last four years they used to hang me out on the internet browsing, they made a facebook group where I am psychopath

The boys have grown up without father
They are great guys who do well

It gives me the answer that the choice I have made are correct

One day I hope that I’m back
Not that the girl i used to be but a better and stronger version of myself

anonymous Sep 14, 2015 9:10am

All the comments and replies have been worthwhile to read. The last few were not accurate in my opinion as a narcissist is only loyal to themselves. Unfortunately these are bad people and the Empath has the capacity but can be either. A Narcissist is by definition BAD. I have experience with a covert narcissistic wife and I am the codependent or “empath”, but I am just as guilty of wrongdoing if not more. What’s important to understand is the distinguishing trait of a narcissist is the total lack of empathy. That is big advantage in a dysfunctional relationship.

I’m attracted to narcissistic women and will always date them. After going through a tough divorce with my Narc and paying out millions I will just use them for what they do best, and only for the time they do it.

The sex is amazing with one. They have no boundaries and when trying to set the hook will basically become a sexually deviant slave. When they realize that I will not be manipulated and they have been a victim of there own selfishness the relationship is over but as a casual endeavor you can’t beat it.

anonymous Sep 14, 2015 2:53am

brilliant article, explains my relationship to a tee.

It’s now been 3 months no contact & ignoring the

Narcissist when they show up. I still have fantasies

Of being with them regardless of the cruel way

I was treated. It really felt like my soul was devoured

And I was emotionally raped. I was so worn down

By the manipulation and power plays that I didn’t know

What was reality. And I put up with more and more cruelty the more I was worn down. Thank god for good friends yanking me

Out and guiding me thru healing. And articles like this. Anyone who writes that narcissists and co dependants are the same have it wrong. The fundamental difference between them is that co dependent have good intentions, narcissists have selfish intentions and don’t care who they hurt/

Purposefully hurt people and get a kick out of it.

anonymous Sep 14, 2015 1:18am

This is a really long post, but I think is worth the read and would probably fall into what the author was looking for when she asked for input from a more 'narcissistic' type person. I'm also attuned to Reiki, hopefully taking Masters courses this winter!

*If you don't want to read all the ways we (both types) mess up, and just want to see how awesome we can be then just read the last paragraph.*

I am an empath-type person, but I can take on narcissistic traits when not taking good care of myself or closely tied in with a destructive person, I can shut down somewhat emotionally. For me it stems from childhood stuff, it's very easy for people to pick up this mix of empathetic and narcissistic behaviors when coming from homes that did not validate their emotions, very authoritarian/punitive families, and families that never celebrated the child's successes but always magnified the smallest failures. And I think what some people who consider themselves empaths might find out, is upon close and honest self-examination they have more narcissistic traits than they ever would have thought. There are differences between these types of people but they really are peas in a pod.

There is definitely a spectrum here, it can range from mild dysfunction to personality disorders such as scizoid-personality (or narcissistic personality disorder) which is more common in males and borderline personality disorder in females, which essentially means an empath-soul-sucker.

I agree that the original article is trying to play the blame-game a bit and even though the author tries to remember that the empathetic person needs to take ownership and that the narcissist is sick and in pain as well, it still seems like whatever her pain was is a little too close to home for unbiased reporting. But I cannot say without knowing her specific situation, and do not want to invalidate the fact that she was hurt by a narcissistic person.
Most empaths in a relationship with a narcissist are somewhat sick themselves, often getting into the relationship because they feel a need to latch onto the narcissists outwardly confident, charismatic and egotistical projection in order to feel value about themselves. This article calls the narcissist an "energy vampire" when in reality that is kind of the pot calling the kettle black.

    anonymous Sep 14, 2015 1:19am

    I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings or offend anyone with this post. It's funny, I used to be called the narcissist in relationships, and now that I have grown emotionally and spiritually, people want to be very quick to point out that I am an empath, and that I am setting myself up for pain with romantic relationships because I still gravitate towards damaged people and try to 'fix' them. So *apparently* when I wasn't as spiritually fit I was taking advantage of the weak ones, diabolically manipulating their volatile emotional states to feed my bottomless ego.
    And now
    *apparently* due to my own chronic low self-esteem, I am dating people who are incapable of giving 100% to a relationship, incapable of loving me unselfishly, who will sow chaos into the excellent life and serene mind I've worked so hard to find and ultimately break my heart because I cannot love them into loving themselves.

    But I am falling head over heels for the same type of girl as I used to, so who's perception of me is right? They both are, most of us have both parts and both the empath and the narcissist can be inherently selfish.

    I am growing though, the last person who popped up and was just exactly my kind of crazy, I did see lots of red flags, it's just that those flags don't keep my heart from going out to them so I sometimes feel powerless to stay away.

    So lets talk "empaths" in these types of relationships.

    I've found that the empath in this scenario is just as sick, if not moreso than the narcissist and can become the classic "crazy partner" who will alternate between being super loving and affectionate, then to helpless clingy "save me" mode, if challenged they can move to self-deprecating "you're right I'm sorry…" (often trying to take all of the blame instead of just what is theirs), and even the "you don't love me, if you did you would do (x) or wouldn't act (x)," And all of this is because the empath is trying to manipulate their partner into giving affection above and beyond what would be considered healthy and reasonable in a normal relationship. This is to make up for their own self-value deficiencies.

    Enter the narcissist, who is in their own way desperate for validation and revels in the over-the-top affection that the empath often gives. Being narcissistic (even if unaware), he/she at least believes they will be immune to the emotional appeals of their partner, and thus be able to handle their "brand of crazy". Both are very capable of cheating on their lovers, and often you will see empathetic partners do this and blame the narcissist "I cheated because he/she didn't give me enough affection, attention, etc." when in fact no amount would have ever been enough. The narcissist will do the same, saying "I cheated because he/she drove me to, always clinging and expecting so much and draining me." In reality both are probably somewhat right, but more true would be that they saw an opportunity to grab some good feelings off someone and have trouble passing that up.

    Unfortunately, what sometimes happens in these relationships is the narcissist ends up being able to see through the empath's game and manipulate his/her emotional state into whichever way will best suit their own selfish needs. This can be mild to moderate, but will always look a little messed up to the casual observer. In the worst scenarios, the narcissist will nurture complete dependence and a more classic abusive relationship dynamic will form (manipulate, victim-blame, push away, repeat).

    But before we jump in to say "oh poor empathetic person" let's remember that they are master manipulators as well, and it was actually their original subconscious goal to get into this 'dependent' position, and if their partner wasn't so abusive themselves, the empath would be considered the emotionally manipulative and abusive one, just not in the way we are used to seeing. But the unhealthy empath is an emotional "hostage-taker," using their fragile emotional states to control a loving partner's every move, empaths are the people capable of saying "if you leave I'll kill myself" in more extreme cases. Having to be the sole provider of someone's self worth is a lot of responsibility to put on someone.

      anonymous Sep 14, 2015 1:20am

      The narcissist, however, is capable of shutting out these emotional appeals and will be the partner who has no problem leaving their lover sobbing on the floor, or 'punishing' their partner by being emotionally unavailable, cold, and distant. They can be quick to point out their empath's flaws and mistakes, then nurture the empath's dependence by insinuating that they are the only ones who would put up with someone so crazy. Though this is hardly necessary because an empath with low self-esteem will already be secretly harboring this idea. They can get physically and even sexually abusive.

      I don't think I was as extreme as this, but I watched an extremely abusive narcissistic/empathetic relationship between two friends unfold. Ultimately, he (narcissist) was extremely abusive and did some terrible things, but the empath was no angel and she sure as hell would fight dirty, and play with her knowledge that the narcissists ego was deep down quite fragile. Both knew exactly where to strike to hurt the other.

      What I want people to understand is that these types are peas in a pod, two sides of the same coin. Often I think these relationships are the "love at first sight," ridiculously passionate from the get-go, fatal attraction, codependent love affairs that almost always end in disaster.

      This pairing just naturally comes together. Neither person enters trying to manipulate, use or hurt the other one. It is usually a mutual, very intense attraction because both see an opportunity to balance each other's shortcomings.

      But to the few people who have expressed that the original article is an overly villainous assessment of a narcissist-type person, and idealized version of an empath, I hope this reply validates some of those feelings. Remember that even if you are an empath and didn't do the stuff I mention exactly, there are degrees of dysfunction here and chances are you exhibit at least some of the qualities I mentioned at times, they might be more cleverly disguised or subtle. It's not like most narcissists are beating their partners then saying it's their own fault it happened. We are all somewhat sick and subtly emotionally manipulative personality types. I am also considering the idea that gender plays a role in this, and some women who think they are empaths might actually just be narcissists but it doesn't come out in as many of the hyper-masculine ways that are stereotypical.

      I am no real expert though, most of this is experiential or witnessed, and learned through a lot of soul searching. What is true for me may not be true for you, but at least take an honest appraisal of yourself. Ya know what's crazy, I could actually write more about how we mess up relationships, and tell you about the genius empath girl who was actually a narcissist in disguise and possibly a sociopath who tore my heart out a couple years ago. I got over it eventually, for real ^_^ – she was a beautiful soul who was abused very badly and it caused her to be very ugly at times. I think she is doing better now but we don't talk.

      I think the good news is though that we are all also capable (narcissists included!) of being some of the most loyal, loving, compassionate people. Most of us are very intelligent. The phrase "you complete me" can truly describe a healthy narcissist/empath couple. But by that time the empath will be the nurturing, gentle, free and fun person that everyone adores and admires, and your narcissist will be the natural leader that everyone looks up to; with unwaivering positivity, loyalty, integrity, and noble principles who can make the hard decisions for the greatest good. You will be the first two people your friends, family and neighbors run to in a crisis and you will learn so much from one another.

      Love you all,
      Still single by the way 😉

anonymous Sep 8, 2015 9:36pm

I think a telltale sign in the end whether you're either an empath or a narcissist or both is when you reach an impasse where your mind and heart are at odds with one another. You can't trust yourself or your friend/partner/associate staying in the relationship anymore. The key as an empath is to set a non-negotiable and if the other violates it intentionally and tries to put it on you that you are over-reacting or better yet violates the non-negotiable by trying to use a technicality to say he or she didn't when they violated it in the spirit in which it was agreed to begin with. The head is rational and says, "leave" while your heart is protesting all the while. As a narcissist, if you are given a non-negotiable is it a fair hard limit to be asked of you and secondly, if you are thinking of finding a work around without sharing it with your friend/partner/associate, then perhaps this is a good time to let them go. You may be villified but sometimes making yourself the enemy helps with the break up process.

anonymous Sep 8, 2015 7:41am

What if the empathy has left but the narcissist had manipulated his way back into the empathy life and won’t leave.

anonymous Sep 7, 2015 1:02pm

This described myself and my boyfriend of 21 years. I meet him the first time at 16 years old, but we went our separate ways. Unfortunately I let him back in when I was 33 years old he is the same age as I am. By that time I had 3 boys. This man did a lot of damage to me and my son's and he was working on my grandson. By this time I was going through an a waking, which my boyfriend could not and did not want to understand I was becoming myself again. With the help of my son's we planned my Grandson and my escape. We sent my boyfriend on a day long fishing trip we bought the tickets as Father's Day present (which was a joke in it's self) and scheduled it for July 4th (another joke) and I rented a moving truck, my family came over we packed all of my things and my car full, took the dog and hauled ass out of there. That night in the motel a feeling of utter calm and relief came over me. I do not miss this man in the least, I am not sadden by the loss of that life. I am mindfully everyday remembering it, so I can see where I am at and how grateful I am. They literally saved my life. My Mother and Sister do not understand it, they don't have too!

anonymous Sep 6, 2015 5:17pm

Thank you, for your article, I guess I could have been either a narcissist or an empath. In a pseudo opinion, the difference is that one is damaged and the other is not, like you said. In addition , narcissists are very honest straight forward people that control to contain the damage they may be responsible for, and have no control unless to manipulate belief for leadership for a known or unknown threat or concern. However, there is hope for resolution and that is what may drive most motivation for a feeling of contentment with faith after alcoholism, which is possible.Either way anyone is a narcissist with alcohol. Afterward, it’s not anyone else’s concern but their own and honesty and empathy may bury the bipolar narcissistic alcoholism that is a boyfriend or girlfriend. CBT

anonymous Sep 5, 2015 11:05am

Very one-sided, and naturally so. The need to help other people the way “empaths” do is not something as positive as described here. Its in a way very similar to a narcissist, which is why the two attract each other. Mosh empaths feel unworthy themselves in my experience and try to compensate by helping others, which will make them feel better. Both empaths and narcissists need to heal themselves before anything else, and that means realising that you are worth of love without any condition. Its not that you have to help and “heal” to be worthy of love. You are worth of love just because of your existence. When empaths make that step, they will not fall for narcissists and vice versa.

anonymous Sep 4, 2015 6:20pm

I was in a good mood on a sunny California Friday until I read this article. Now I feel terrible to be a narcissist and will do anything to find an empath to heal me. I think I know where to find one.

anonymous Sep 4, 2015 3:11am

I would identify my self as the "EMPATH" and i am really glad to have come across this read and at a time when I am in exactly the same situation. Thank you Author! I know what I need to do .

anonymous Sep 3, 2015 3:54pm

Wounded? Who isn't? I was wounded in my childhood. I'm just glad that God gave me the empath title, and not the narcissist.
I'd like to add one more thing… I'm confused by your comment, "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"
When I read other pages on this subject it says: "They know exactly what they are doing, and they choose to continue this behaviour" But really, does anyone really know for sure? And yes, this has taught me so much, like the bible says" "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."
God bless all who have come across someone like this.

anonymous Aug 30, 2015 9:02am

Hello. I am not a narcissist, I am an eccentric personality type ( curious thinker and idealist who wants to see a world where people can be happy as long as they’re not hurting others), but also a Psychology major, so perhaps I can help you out with my opinion and experiences.

The thing that trips me up about your article, is that you didn’t know you were a self-described empath until you came across a narcissist on a short-cut through the woods. If you were truly an empath as you say you are, you would have known long before then. In a separate article you say you always know you were “quite different” than others. I’m not sure which it is now. Why do you need to polarity of the narcissistic to exist? From the beginning of this article, you are looking for the validation of a narcissist. With your “paranormal type skills” you are special but also “criticised, disbelieved and are told to be wrong.” To me, that looks like an illusion of grandeur and self-esteem issues. I could easily say that you are the narcissist, and also, you are trying to manipulate readers by first saying you always knew you were different, and then saying it took a narcissist’s evil to show you that you were an “empath”. Despite the slight inconsistencies, I think you possess a magical way of thinking to describe what most of us know as being human, and goodness, there is somethign sweet and endearing about the way you think.

“Empath” is a very interesting new buzzword that I never heard in 4 years of studying Psychology. Have you ever thought about writing fiction? I think you’d be well suited.

anonymous Aug 21, 2015 2:27pm

I thought I was alone. I broke up with my ex-fiance because he was psychologically abusive. I am an empath too and he was a Narcissist. It’s been months since I cut him out of my life for good. I still think about him everyday but I know it was the right thing to do. I didn’t even know I was an empath until after the fact. Every word you said I can relate to. I thought I was losing my mind. What’s worse is im 21 and he was 39 so he had a lot of more experience sucking energy than i was at protecting my energy. I became aware of my abilities this year but i don’t know where to begin seeking spiritual guidance. Have any idea of what i should do?

anonymous Aug 18, 2015 5:59am

Brilliant article and every word is a true one. It's taken me years to get over this toxic relationship and the damage it's done to me but I have vowed that I will NEVER get involved with a narcissist again. I won't do it to myself again. And as you said: we are not here to fix others. That's THEIR journey (or therapy). 🙂 Much love.

anonymous Aug 17, 2015 1:29pm

I actually hate this article and the way it operates based on sweeping categorizations of people. Relationships are much more complicated this description. I think lots of people want to believe this bc black and white is easier to swallow than reality. Reading this is probably very valudating to people who self describe themselves as “empaths” but just bc something feels validating doesn’t mean it is true. Maybe you are really “narcissistic” by self aggrandizing yourself and vilifying the person you are in a relationship with. Quotes like “an empath has the ability to sense and absorb others pain” get me, bc that describes almost everyone at one time or another, and pretty much no one does this all the time. Not to mention the meaning of “absorbing pain” differs so much depending on the person. These categories prevent us from coming to deeper understanding of each other as humans bc instead examining each others nuances and differences in perspective it encourages the reader to embrace a one dimensional view of their partner

anonymous Aug 16, 2015 7:17am

5 days ago I walked out of a relationship just as you described. I was tired of crying and it was always my fault. Thank you for your article, which is spot-on. Some respond that you are too hard on the N's but my mom used to tell me that "…it takes 2 to tango!" I do recognize my short comings and it will be quite some time u til iget involved with anyone as I need to figure out my strengths as well as my weaknesses and put them together In a more balanced fashion.

anonymous Aug 14, 2015 2:49pm

If you want to learn more about how the relationship with the narcissist works, I recommend The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love and Family by Eleanor Payson. It certainly saved my life! I don't classify myself as an empath, but rather as a highly-sensitive person, introverted and needing lots of downtime. Understanding the dynamic between myself and the narcissist has helped me to take much better care of myself in all circumstances as well as helping me to free myself from a draining work relationship.

anonymous Aug 14, 2015 10:14am

This article was pretty right on but it did not cover The other narcissist the shy narcissist. All of the attributes of the obvious narcissist did not cover this one so they are named the shy narcissist. They often exaggerate things that have happened with their partner or blatantly lie to make them look like a bad person. This person is (around most people) extremely patient,very charismatic and wants desperately to portray themselves as a good guy. But conversely with people they feel they can be themselves around often family members they live with they are often removed and distant off in their own world and easily frustrated. Blaming other people for their frustration in a covert way like, you asked them what they are doing on the computer and they become angry. You try talking to them about it by saying you are often on the computer and when you’re not you are distant most of the time so I just wanted to ask what you were doing. Then they jump up and yell well I just won’t ever use the computer again and become so angry they are shaking!! Often responding to Little things like not having money to dry the towels at the laundry and hanging them up at home with talking to you like a piece of crap shaking talking through their teeth or slamming things and yelling. Even responding with anger and yelling when you catch them doing horrible things like finding multiple married and cheating websites on the history of their phone, sneaking off several times to go see an ex-girlfriend or finding secret emails with dating websites on their phone. And if you try to speak to them about their anger they say things like ” oh weeeell I’m so soooooorry that I’m just angry aaaaaaaaall the time!!! Or saying sorry angrily through their teeth. BUT as I mentioned before being a good guy around most people charismatic and patient. However at home seeming depressed removed and often easily frustrated and angered…. It is very true most of these people suffered emotional or physical abuse growing up. They are seeking the validation they did not get one they grew up and are very hurt people. So over and over in relationships they are seeking a savior and it will use any amount of charm and lies to get that person then that person becomes the enemy. I do not think this is a cut and dried synopsis of their personality. The person I know does not seem to be like this all the time and sometimes seems very genuine and like they want to change.

anonymous Aug 13, 2015 5:59pm

I'm in the exact relationship described in this article, but I don't see why narcissists can't change if they want to. My partner is the narcissist and I am the empathy, and a few months ago I almost walked away because I realized I was a shell my former self. We separated for 6 weeks and only spent three nights a week together and I was able to regain myself. After my partner saw how much he had damaged me he has been working very hard at building me up and now our relationship is drastically different. He actually is a comfort and support to me now, and our fights and his moments of extreme selfishness are resolved much more quickly now. Narcissists can change. Everyone can.

anonymous Aug 13, 2015 12:22am

This is so true. I didnt know that there is an emphat and narcissit as I read the article it makes sense about my previous relationship. I thought it is just cultural differences so I endure the pain.I am an emphat. I come to a point that I will stay with him no matter what he has done to me. And things become a cycle everyday and everyday im hurting and crying secretly. Until it came to a point that he physically hurt me. I forgive him of course after that. But it came to my senses that things are way out of hand so we decided to seperate ways. After a week he wanted to see me and wants to settle again. I was weak and hurt but i accept him again. And then he stop communicating and just as i know he has another girl. I was shocked, i cried. Until now i am still broken. He wants to be with me and he wants me to fight for him. Which i already am tired and I gave up.

anonymous Aug 12, 2015 3:22pm

You know what really by find my grinds my gears? When people use empath and empathy interchangeably. They’re not the same thing. Anyone can understand what a person is going through without experiencing it. That’s empathy. Being an empath involves taking on people’s emotions as their own. You can literally FEEL what they’re really feeling on the inside even when they don’t express it.

anonymous Aug 12, 2015 1:04pm

This was so spot on. Everything i had ever known and could never put into words. Luckily, i got out before he took over my whole soul.

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 7:03pm

According to, one trait of an empath is that they feel other people's emotions. So, then, if the writer is an empath, then why did she start a relationship with someone when she knew what the guy was feeling from the beginning? Wouldn't they have known that the boy was not good for them? Wouldn't they [beyond intuition] know that the guy had deep seeded problems from their past?

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 4:20pm

I understand this idea that is regularly presented that we cannot fix anyone, to some degree. But, then I think of all the amazing healing stories I have read about others helping and saving their loved ones. I like those stories and they are often success stories. But, I guess what we are talking about in this article is trying to help someone who doesn't want to be helped and someone who may even resent your efforts to help them turn things around. Am I understanding this right? For instance, all of the mind blowing healing stories from illness that I have read always included lots of support (family or friends). Those who are floundering are usually lacking a substantial support network for whatever reason. However, this is what I have learned about watching those recover from illness. What we are discussing here is different and I get that. But, it seems if the person wants to work on this stuff and you help them with it some it is fine, right? As long as you can see they are taking initiative and responsibility themselves, which likely may not be the case in a situation like this. Then I guess we need to decide if we want to drown with them or not. (empath identifier- for the most part- speaking here)

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 2:30pm

This is basically just describing the symbiotic narcissist / codependent relationship, as people have said. Though the empath angle is interesting. But only as a hook. To be very clear, there is an arrogance in the belief that one can fix/help another. And using the term ’empath’ INSTEAD of ‘codependent’ (rather than IN ADDITION TO) perpetuates that arrogance. Anyone who dates a narcissist (I’m guilty as charged) is also probably guilty of objectifying their partner: as in, getting attached to their too-good-to-be-true facade. The narcissist is toxic, no question, but so is the codependent. Until one sees and admits these things, the cycle will repeat.

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 1:30pm

I had a recent psychotherapy experience where these sorts of tendencies were intensified and so more easily seen (at least in hindsight). Both myself and the therapist exhibited narcissistic and empathic traits. She was definitely a healer/rescuer type and was heavily invested in saving me, but was also a narcissist who did not like having her motives questioned.

I think all these attempts to assign a "type" to people are misguided and kinda silly. Sure we all have our stronger tendencies, but when you look at things more closely it is never as simple as this article suggests.

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 12:34pm

This is the first that I read something that actually depicts the exact relationship between these two extremes. I have experienced this relationship with my mother, with whom it has taken me up until this last year to have tried everything I can possibly imagine to have any kind of relationship with her, only to realize, it just is not possible for my own growth. So against other’s opinions on family, I have decided to let her go, and created my new boundaries that she does not feel comfortable to be in. I have realized that I am an empathy that was raised by a narcissist, and there were times when I took on and experienced those traits as well, only to come back to who I truly am. I definitey believe that we take personal responsibility for our actions and that it is our own responsibilities to understand ourselves. Thank you for writing this I am happy that I had a chance to read. 🙂

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 10:41am

Thank you, Alex Myles. This article is spot on – very helpful, and I can learn from it. Keep up the good work!

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 9:05am

This is a very one-sided article.

Empath/healers ARE wounded. That’s why they feel the need to control and manipulate others under the pretense of “love and care.” This is not real love and care. They desperately seek validation through finding “flawed people” that they can try to “fix.” Perhaps the so-called healers should heal themselves first, instead of looking for others to fix so they don’t have to face their own demons and what needs healing from their own childhood. The entire premise that the “empath/healer” is this wonderful person who wants to help the lowly narcissist with their problems is disrespectful, divisive, and NOT loving. There’s disdain in this premise along with superiority and righteousness as well a rationalization for their behavior and viewpoint. They sound exactly like a narcissist. The two people in a toxic relationship are the same — both wounded, both toxic, both narcissistic, but empathic.. They just trade victim/aggressor labels depending on the circumstance.

“Empath/healers” cannot be made to have low self esteem by a fleeting narcisstic partner. Those feelings of low self worth were already present.

    anonymous Aug 12, 2015 11:11am

    While I certainly agree that this a one-sided article, I strongly feel that you have mis-characterized the empath's motivations. The truth is no one is unscathed by insecurities and wounds. The driving force behind an empath is a compulsion to facilitate healing and harmony which is almost impossible to describe. It would be like trying to describe a color to a blind person. It does not usually come from a place of scarcity but a place of abundance-abundance for all (though certainly this is not universally true). It really is as sappy as "I just want everyone to be happy!"

    The truth is that empath need to learn how to allow people to be who they are and how they actually are even if the person they see is troubled and discordant from the empath's perspective. Wanting to heal and help people is a noble cause but it too can be tainted when applied inappropriately. This author is sharing a personal experience with a wounded narcissist and wants to help others by sharing her struggle.

    Being manipulated and hurt by someone who is incapable of empathy is a painful experience for anyone. It's a rude but necessary crucible event for an empath. Learning boundaries is a achievable goal for an empath. However, how does a narcissist who has no idea he or she is a narcissist start to work on the havoc caused by the recurring personality trait they exhibit?

    It really is an interesting question! Don't decide that people with emotions are bad so quickly. Emotions are how we actual survived as a species–because we care about our young and vulnerable. Rationality has its place as well. It's a balancing act!

    Namaste from a fellow empath

    anonymous Sep 3, 2015 11:20am

    This is the most sensible comment here. Thank you for articulation so clearly how the empath and narcissist are both relating from a similarly wounded place.

anonymous Aug 11, 2015 7:35am

A M A Z I N G!
I've spent the last 10 months trying to rebuild myself after falling into this trap with a narcissist (didn't realize it at the time).

Thank you.

anonymous Aug 10, 2015 5:47pm

I agree with Leni: some people are born that way, some haven’t even had a rough life ,so as to (somewhat) justify their obnoxious behaviour. I further disagree with the following: “They [narcissists] are not consciously aware of their behaviour and the damage it causes”.Having been in a relationship with a narcissist and through all hell described above in the article , I believe they know very well how damaging their words and actions (or lack thereof) can be . These people are self-absorbed to the point of being EVIL.They have a plan and a strategy on how to approach, destroy and abandon their victims.They are not only aware, they ENJOY the pain they cause others. It’s their supply and a huge boost to their ego.

    anonymous Aug 11, 2015 5:46am

    Maria – you are spot on. The narcissist knows exactly what they are doing, they are fully in control despite trying to push all the blame onto the other person. Apart from that, and I’m not sure I set out to ‘fix’ my ex in the beginning (although in the middle of our ‘relationship’ I tried to stop all the pointless arguments by applying loving kindness at every step…which still wasn’t enough) this article explains very well what happened with me and my ex. The swirling circle is an accurate image as it felt like the core of my being had turned into a black hole and I was being destroyed from the inside out, and it felt like that was his intention all along. The challenge now, in moving on, is to be vigilant to the red flags without being over sensitive to them and shutting genuine people out. I also felt that I was taking on personality traits of a narcissist and now choose carefully who I spend my time with, in the belief that that we become like those we keep company with.

anonymous Aug 6, 2015 10:38pm

All is not hopeless. The book “the Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists” helps an empath to see clearly what to do to protect oneself and still have a relationship . It sounds good on paper. I just started the book.

anonymous Aug 6, 2015 6:11pm

I cannot describe the feelings of relief I felt while reading this article. It helped me make so much sense of my situation that I have been battling and struggling with for 3 years while dating an addict and narcissist. It helped me flip my switch from confused victim to having total clarity and peace with this daunting cycle, and realize my power to remove myself from it. Perfectly depicted. Thank you.

anonymous Aug 3, 2015 2:35am

Thank you so much for posting your insight. It has given me more insight and helped my process to heal and understand not only myself but others. For 7yrs i allowed myself to be manipulated and degraded, and its taken me almost 2yrs to mend the broken pieces. I do believe i can now see a Narcissit coming from a mile away, however my guard will never be down again.

anonymous Aug 2, 2015 9:18pm

As a mental health therapist I have never heard of an empath personality. Empathy is an attribute many healthy people have. What your describing sounds more like Co dependency although I could be wrong. Also it bothers me Tha you keep saying Narcissist personality. Narssisim is a personality disorder. If you really want to tell if a person suffers from narcissistic personality disorder let the DSM 5 be your guide and talk to someone qualified to make a diagnosis.

    anonymous Aug 4, 2015 11:09pm

    I’ve read a few things now that refer to empath being a personality type.
    And I think them referring to narcissistic personality is them referring to the disorder. Its just perhaps being less judgmental.

    anonymous Aug 6, 2015 10:56pm

    Thank you for your objective, professional view. It hinders growth and true understanding when labels are tossed around too casually.

anonymous Aug 2, 2015 6:57pm

Thank you for writing this! It is so comforting to know I'm not alone in this experience. As an empath, I recognize my attraction to narcissists and I know where the road leads but I still find myself sniffing them out of the crowd. I'm still working on how to break this cycle but reading it from another perspective gives me reassurance…I'm not alone!

anonymous Aug 1, 2015 10:21pm

The only thing I disagree with is that a narcissist does not have to be wounded to become one. Some people are just born that way, just as some are empaths, some people have brown eyes and so on. It is true that a personality disorder can be triggered if the genetic disposition is there, but it is not a requirement.

anonymous Jul 31, 2015 4:10pm

I have never read anything that so perfectly describes the relationship between me and my ex. After reading it, I cried for the first time in ages. A cry that needed to happen. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m overwhelmed with the clarity/validation this provided me, or the sadness and reality of what happened and my responsibility in at all. Either way it gives me huge insight into our current journey in/struggle with coparenting. Big deep breaths!

anonymous Jul 31, 2015 5:54am

The eternal optimist in me wishes I could read an article about empaths/narcissists that doesn’t end in impossibility…

    anonymous Aug 6, 2015 11:03pm

    It may be possible. I just started a book called "the Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists." It outlines ways to survive and protect yourself, while having a relationship you can enjoy, if you so choose. Check it out. It sounds good on paper. Who knows?

anonymous Jul 30, 2015 8:57pm

How does this differ from the alcoholic/addict and the codependent. It just seems VERY parallel to the hell in living!

anonymous Jul 29, 2015 11:53pm

I have lost myself to a toxic relationship just like this one. I have never read something that completely described my life like this one. Reading this was one of the biggest eye openers Ive ever had. I really feel like I can move on from this moment knowing who I am and what I must do next. Thank you so much for this! I dont know If I could have ever really understand my life and future until now. Time to distance myself from the narcissis and move on with my life.

anonymous Jul 29, 2015 7:37am

What if you’re a empath and a narcissist

anonymous Jul 29, 2015 1:15am

By the time I figured out I needed to leave him, he was diagonsed with ALS ( Lou Gehrigs diease) …of course the world revolves around him, he is dying. Angry and full of spite. And it’s my fault …

anonymous Jul 28, 2015 6:44pm

You lost me in the first paragraph. I am a male empath and as well an Alpha. If you could show me One… Just one, narcissit that claims they are a narcissit? I’d kiss your foot. I was married to a narcissitic person. I also know I’m empathic. I only found this out of accident, but come on. You obviously havent had any experenance with a person with this personality disorder if you are asking for “volunteers”. Thats ridiculous.

anonymous Jul 28, 2015 12:59pm

There are some astounding inaccuracies in this article.First off it is not possible for an empath to turn into a narcissist. A Narcissist and an Empath are completely different.Polar opposites.They are both personality TYPES..and just as it would be impossible for the Narcissist to have true empathy and compassion,so it would be impossible for a highly sensitive, empathatic person to turn into a monster. You cannot change who a person is on the inside, no matter how much they are abused. Empaths are BORN not made and the same can be said of the Narcissist. The Narcissist is a Nemesis to an Empath….not only that but to imply the Empath is to Blame for the Narcissists behaviour is disgusting.Most Empaths have no clue who or what they are dealing with, it's only when they are totally devasted and perhaps have had some time to recover from the Narcissists abuse that they may stumble upon the truth of what has happened to them. I suggest the author gets her facts right before writing about something she is clearly clueless about.this bloody annoys me.

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 9:27pm

What if the Narcissist is your Mother?

    anonymous Jul 28, 2015 1:39pm

    The narcissist is also my mother. I am the only child out of 6 of us that is an empath and completely taken advantage of by her. All the others have separated themselves from her madness. I have learned to set boundaries but still can’t shake the guilty feeling when I fib to her to get out of doing what she wants. I have accepted she will probably never really care what goes on with me and my family, and I blame it on the combination of narcissism and bi polar. I even have a therapist that helps with some emotional release. I suppose she does the best she can with what she knows, but I also do the best I can to take care of me and know she is not my problem and certainly not my priority anymore.

anonymous Jul 26, 2015 11:51am

Labels labels labels. You you you. Me me me.

Me empath good. You narcissist bad.

Surprised to see this post coming from someone claiming Buddhist mediation practice, as otherizing language such as this seem antithetical to the teachings, plus editor, the term empath seems as trendy as narcissist.

Seriously, You lost me when you wrote how wounded the narcissist was and made no mention of the empaths wounding–when I’m fairly certain you can’t dance the wounded dance alone, for starters.

anonymous Jul 25, 2015 4:06pm

retreats to victim status…hmm…could be? I always disliked the way the word victim was used in spiritual terms, but if I replace it with feeling hopeless and powerless maybe that does make some sense. Not certain though.

anonymous Jul 25, 2015 10:43am

My first comment did not show up on board. Anyhoo, I want to be a balanced person, 50%empath/50%narc

anonymous Jul 25, 2015 10:29am

So many of these statements ring true to my empath side and my narcisstic side. I believe my ratio for each of these has vasilated over the years with circumstances and such. My goal is to be a balanced person as both traits seem to have their “plusses”.

It would be nice to go back in time to that relationship that had all of the promise of true love, without all of the destruction the imbalances in myself and ex-partner had. I do believe my overall health was affected because I leaned too much on the empath side in my 10+ year relationship. Unfortunately, he captivated me with his narcisstic side and when I tried to break free in one of those self preserving modes, my behavior was horrible and I acted out and did the kind of things, in short order, that relationships have difficulty rebounding from. But even before those few yet detrimental actions, my narcisstic leaning partner had another distant but strongly emotional relationship with someone else he had been grooming for his benefit for years. I was to be silent about this and accept it…all the while he was convincing me his way to break up with her was kind, my gut was telling me this wasn’t right, but I acquiesced. I tried to tell him how much it was hurting me, all the while he assuaged me and convinced me I was wrong in being hurt, that his method of breaking things off with the other was kind and gentle, because the other was so sweet and delicate. Gosh, those sickening feelings arise even now. Sadly, we were so entwined into each other, my efforts to break away were always reasoned out to his favor…and I was “crazy” about him and weak. Also, very ignorant about what a right and normal relationship should look like. Many happy, yet very confusing and emotionally mercurial years went by. I, always hoping to realize my personal dream to marry THIS one, have HIS children is now a dream that has turned to dust. I am now in menopause and do not have children. This was something I so wanted with HIM. He always could convince me, amid my very busy work life, that day will come once he did this thing or had that success. One of my break up attempts, by phone, I had just turned 40 or 41, as I was explaining to him that things were not changing and “my biological clock was ticking here” ( Marissa Torme’, My Cousin Vinny), he quickly said how his financial outlook had improved and we could def do this. Of course, I was cautiously optimistic, but as you can guess, he always had another excuse to delay my wishes…and the years kept rolling by… I think a purpose in my life now is to express to our young people to be strong and really get to know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, early on, and maybe they can save themselves from this kind of heartache.

anonymous Jul 22, 2015 9:50pm

We like to classify ourselves.Some of us are on some kind of CNS stimulant and don't want to stop out self centered self imposed personality malfunction. So we just brand ourselves and keep doing what we do.

anonymous Jul 22, 2015 4:15am

Easy to say get out, try adding two children into the equation and try to decide if seeing your kids is worth putting up with a narcissist every day.

anonymous Jul 21, 2015 8:16am

…..TRUE narcissism, is but ONE thing alone: the impractical, distorted application of subjective value to all others and their lives for the purpose of perpetual, systematic validation – and the university system, resulting egotocracy has INSTITUTIONALIZED it in the last decade…..THIS, is why there’s SUCH an epidemic of overcompensation, transference, psychosis and PRONOUNCED lack of emotional intelligence at present…..

anonymous Jul 20, 2015 2:22pm

After a long, hard struggle to get out of this pattern, I realized that the victim state comes first.
First I would get into a victim state, and then I would attract a Narcissist who would victimize me.
This helped me to feel superior.
The key is to be empathic AND self-confident.

anonymous Jul 17, 2015 2:59am

It’s with sadness that I am
Here to declare that through reading this article
I am finding myself as a narcissist. And I only have myself To blame. I’ve lost relationships due to this situation.
It was due to the last relationship and the heart ache
And her sending me this article.
That I now understand what is going on.
I pray one day I can repair my heart and soul and find true love with respect and integrity.

And sincerely I apologise to all that I’ve hurt.
Mad Kiwi.
We aren’t aware what we are doing

    anonymous Jul 25, 2015 1:28pm

    To a degree, I believe you aren't aware of what you are doing.

anonymous Jul 16, 2015 3:13pm

I guess im an empath, at least i certainly identify with the mindset. However i also see danger zones and am quick to retract myself from any scammy signs of narcissism. Pessimism is my superpower.

anonymous Jul 14, 2015 6:29am

I agree with the article except for one aspect: I would disagree that the empath is wounded by the narcissist’s selfishness because they have selflessly given their love without return but that they are also drawn to a relationship with a narcissist because they, too, are wounded. Wounded epaths (we used to call them co-dependent, back in the day) derive their sense of worth from being needed, confusing need with love. And who is more needy than a full-blown narcissist (also known as addicts/abusers)? Empaths are quite skillful at their manipulation and selfishness too but, because they are the ‘giver’ in the relationship they’re often seen more as being the victim than the abuser/addict. There’s no heirarchy of nobility in these relationships. To have your heart stuck open allowing people to come and take what they will without a second thought is not superior to having your heart stuck shut, unwilling to give or receive love fully. Sadly, I have traveled this path more than once.

anonymous Jul 13, 2015 8:04pm

I’m excited to respond to this. I am a healed narcissist but it didn’t come easy. I know most people will not believe it but maybe after you read how it happened you can believe it.

Just like you stated I came from some past trauma from my childhood. Foster homes and abuse left me with feelings of worthlessness. What this caused in me was a defense mechanism. It was a switch I turned off who knows when allowing me to not feel. The problem is when you switch it off and leave it off it becomes your default and you lose the ability to turn it back on.

I knew the difference between right and wrong from watching movies and I knew what people expected of me so I was able to blend in and function just like everyone else.

The problem is you generally feel nothing. Humor and anger maybe excitement when things go your way but nothing else. People were chess pieces to me and seeing people in pain because of me really did not affect me. I was numb and cold to everyone and everything. If someone tried to hurt me I was able to shut everything off and walk away from any scenario.

Fast forward to a divorce that I caused because it served my purpose I felt I needed to be alone for a while. Somehow a woman found me.

She was an amazing woman and I could recognize it. She was not overly pretty. In fact she was as plain as plain could be. Not the typical woman is date. In fact I did not want to date her but I did anyway because why not? I had nothing else going on.

We eventually moved in together and things were going well or so I thought. One day I was sitting alone and it hit me. I loved her. For the first time in my life I loved someone more than myself and it felt amazing. I knew then I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

Three hours later she told me there was someone else. I was destroyed. The person I was before ruined it before I got a chance to do it right. At first I reverted back to the narcissist. I was a jerk and angry and I let her know it. The more I did this the more I realized I pushed her away. It hurt so much to realize what I was doing. My first revelation was that everything that was happening was happening because I did it to myself. It hurt so much to realize that.

I had so much to tell her but she would not let me tell her. So I wrote it out all in a letter and left it home for her to find. She was furious about the letter and gave me three days to move out while she was out of town.

I was worthless this entire time. I curled up into a ball and cried on the floor. My family came and packed up my things in one day. I refused to leave bough until my time was up. They took my things and left me alone in the house. Then like an idiot I wrote more letters.

I learned that no matter what happens to us we always have a choice. We can choose to be the best version of ourselves or the worst. This time I chose to be better. No matter what happened I was going to show her unconditional love. When we spoke I told her how wonderful she was while she told me how horrible I was. I did not take any bait and I let her hurt me over and over. She made me cry like a baby everyday for months.

During my last few days there I wrote more letters. I wrote her a letter for every problem I thought she’d ever face so if she ever found herself alone she’d have a piece of me to help her through it. I realize how crazy that is now. I was not sane though when this was happening.

At night it was worse and cried and shouted out to the sky. I was a broken man. Then while I laid on the floor something snapped and everything I ever did came back to haunt me. I relived my entire life accept this time I felt everything. I felt it all as if I was doing it for the first time. I was like a drug addict crying and shaking uncontrollably on the floor.

Time went on and I kept writing. Eventually my time was up and I had to leave. I never saw her again but we did email and talk on the phone because we still had to transfer bills and leases into her name. She managed to hurt me every single time but I never tried to hurt her back. The pain was horrible but I put up with it. I was determined to show her unconditional love.

The more unconditional love I showed her the more I realized that what made me worth loving was not anything I’d ever thought before. It was my ability to love that made me worth loving. I was feeling everything and it was amazing. It was all new to me and I was extremely excited for some reason.

Imagine seeing the world in black and white and then all of the sudden someone comes along and shows you color. Everything was new to me and I was excited to feel it even when it hurt. The world was new to me. I began letting everyone know just how much I cared for them and wanted them to be happy. People were concerned about me at first saying nobody needs to hear this kind of honesty. Eventually they told me that it was good and that they were the ones not ready to hear that kind of honesty.

It was far from over though. Within two weeks I was fired, I lost all my money, I lost my home, my kids from my previous marriage, I lost many friends, I was robbed of everything I owned, and my health fell apart very badly.

I was done in. Everything that I surrounded myself with to feel worth something was gone and I was left homeless and penniless. I felt naked in a field. I ended up living in my mothers garage and had enough. I was ready to end it all.

My gun was loaded but I decided to wait. I went for a walk and ended up curled up in my mothers driveway crying. All I wanted to do was hear her voice one more time. Even though she was happy with someone else I just wanted to hear her tell me if be ok but I couldn’t call her anymore.

When I was done crying it all became clear. None of that stuff mattered. I did not need any of that to be worth loving. What I needed was inside me the entire time. I was all I needed. My value was not based off of my past but what I had in me and what choices I made in the moment.

I still cried over her for two years. Everyday for months and eventually it slowed to a few times a week, once a week, a few times a month and then once a month. Then I eventually would go a month without crying.

I think if you want to understand a narcissist you have to understand that they don’t understand emotions. They don’t let themselves feel them so when they hurt you they think you feel what they feel which is nothing.

They see the world as if everyone is like them so pain is not there and reactions people give are just that. They are not real. How can you understand something you’ve never felt?

What I believe cured me was finally allowing myself to feel pain. Wen others tried to convince me to go drinking or have random sex I refused. For two years I gave up alcohol, sex, and being angry.

Giving those up have me nothing to hide behind and I had to face myself everyday. I dealt with my past and tried to be the best man I could and lived my life for everyone else.

What cured me was finally facing the pain. The pain of who I was and the pain of my past. I found forgiveness for myself and for everyone that ever mistreated me.

It was a horrible time for me and I lost a lot of weight but it was the best hing to ever happen to me. I would not change a thing. When she left it crushed me but at that point I needed more. I had to have everything taken from me because at that point I was still a man trying to strike a deal.

When I lost the only woman I ever loved and everything else in my life all I had was myself and that forced me to find value in me. I found it by finally being a man and facing my emotions and taking every moment to be the best man I could worthy of being loved.

So I won’t say you can fix a narcissist. I don’t really think you can. I often wonder if you show them unconditional love if you can love them back into a whole person. Who knows but what I can say is it will be their choice and they need a reason good enough to face their past. My reason was her. I chose to be better and the more I did the more it hurt but despite the pain I was able to see the good in me and the person I was. I saw someone I could respect and someone that was worthy of her love even if it no longer belonged to me.

So like I said. The narcissist does not know what they are doing to you nor do they care. To them the world is back and white not color and they assume you see it the same way. They’ll never understand what they are doing to you until somehow the color is switched on.

anonymous Jul 13, 2015 5:36am

This article is too true… I am one of the lucky ones, in my opinion, because I have experienced, lived and been both sides of this coin. Many years ago I was that life sucking succubus of a narcissist. It took one VERY strong and determined empath to help show me what was wrong, WHY I was a narcissist and possible directions/ways to handle my constant need for attention. It took YEARS and lots of hard work but I broke myself of NEEDING attention and being SELFISH and only caring about MYSELF, looking for more and more people to FEED my ego… I think it makes me a better empath for it since I have been on the flip side. It helps me HELP others without becoming too drained or getting sucked in to the whirlwind of destruction. It has also helped me understand that I cannot fix anyone, I am there as a GUIDE. The only one that can do the fixing is the narcissist themself. Also, since I have been there I know how hard it is and when there is more encouragement needed when right steps are being taken, not to stroke egos or give attention but to reinforce progress, whichever direction they are ultimately heading. It has also helped me appreciate both the narcissist and the empath for their strengths and weaknesses alike. They are two POWERFUL forces, each of which deserves to be celebrated and recognized in their own way.

anonymous Jul 13, 2015 3:49am

I'm posting (I never usually do, it's a bit of a one-off) because I'm really sick and tired of the portrayal of narcissists on the Internet.

Technically I have NPD. I have the vast majority of the traits of a narcissist. One of the traits I don't have is a lack of empathy, and upon taking a large bunch of empath tests online I've learnt that I am pretty much a borderline empath. I've been a vegetarian for years, and people getting hurt makes me cry. I am not the kind of un-caring, consciously manipulative demon you like to think you're a force of good against, and I'm really offended and saddened everywhere I go to find that, as a narcissist, I'm somehow the Lord Voldemort to your Dumbledore. It's not that clear-cut at all.

Now, I'm not sure whether I suck the energy (or whatever airy-fairy pseudo-scientific word you'd like to use) out of my dearest friends and partners, but I very much hate the thought of it. I'm in a bit of a bind as to how my relationships work due to this co-existence of a high other-regarding tendency and high self-regarding tendency. I really don't know. But I do know that I can genuinely be concerned for a partner's well being, and I'm not constantly attempting to put them down. I would love to respect my partners more than I respect myself, or on the same level. And some of them I have.

I expect I'm not alone in being a highly-empathetic narcissist, so I'm pleased that I've put this point of view across for everyone who might feel saddened or annoyed or just disconcerted by the hatred portrayed for us online. Narcissists are urged to acknowledge their condition and change it, meanwhile I don't see anyone urging the empath (which is also a condition, right?) to change themselves. A lack of self-regard is unhealthy, as much as I realise the empath loves to think they have a moral high-ground. A lack of other-regarding tendencies is also unhealthy. Maybe we should all be trying to meet in the middle.

anonymous Jul 13, 2015 3:49am

Was married 22 years to a man I never knew! that's what I believed until I began reading about this Empath/Narcissitic thing..before we married and were still very young I didn't really think about how he never apologized or thought of the feelings of others..everyone was pretty much a smart ass at that time..but when the babies started coming..everything about myself went into mommy mode and it wasn't long before I'd had my fill of his insensitive ways. We had four Sons first..then a Daughter and by Son #3 we were going at it more than not! By the time our youngest boy and our daughter were born ..I hated him! as a man,as a husband and especially as a father!!He started drinking heavily just before our daughter was born..and not long after that our fighting went from verbal to physical and I was no match for this man that had never considered the feelings of others!!physically or emotionally! But his kids Loved their Dad so I set out to try and change his heart..I might of had a chance but for the drinking. The whiskey made him numb to the feelings he may have begun to feel in the way he treated us and eventually we all put up the white flag..we were no match for the whiskey and the kids were old enough to realize it..the two oldest were ready to start thier own lives..without their Dad being a part of it. They rarely talked to him unless they got a call because he needed usually..then they just stopped answering the phone when it was him. Ten..Twelve years later he hit rock bottom,was homeless and had major health issues..potentially fatal issues and he came to us..his now grown Sons with Sons of their own ,wives,jobs and the sense of responsibiliy to these things that their father never had…took him in and cared for him under the condition he put the liquor down for good! Four months ago,this sober & saved man got back to back to the business of living and providing for himself..I pray he never wastes this selfless gift his Sons & family have given him..though he has never made Amends for the injustices he put on them..never acknowledged how he made all of us feel for to many years. Should he relapse..he will be alone with it and my kids hearts will ache..but they won't subject themselves and their families to any of it again..My question is: is their a connection to alcohol abuse and the narcissistic personality or nature?One seems to be an incapacity to relate to the feelings of others and the other is a way of numbing any feelings entirely when they aren't jiving with doing what a person damn well feels like some point in recovery from any addiction a person has to come to terms with the wreckage their behavior has brought on..and it can be hyper emotional! yet essential to the process…can't heal without it!! I fear his chances are slim..because he has never dealt with his emotions,he is a spoiled child in the personal growth arena. Like I said..I pray for him,I pray he doesn't dissapoint his children and lose them forever,its his life but their generous and loving hearts are my main always. Is a narcissistic personality a pre-curser to mind numbing addictions?

anonymous Jul 12, 2015 2:59pm

What utter bullshit! There is no such thing as an "empath." Unless you are Deanna Troi from Star Trek.

anonymous Jul 11, 2015 7:16am

A narcissist will not move on so easily as the end of this article suggests. Typically a narcissist will feel the need to punish and destroy those whom they cannot control.

anonymous Jul 10, 2015 8:48am

Some of Melody Beattie's book on Codependency might be useful those who consider themselves empaths.

anonymous Jul 10, 2015 8:32am

I agree with everything here, except one detail. I am an empath and I have dated many narcissists. This article has been so eye opening! To hear that it is a pattern, that it is common, somehow makes me feel less alone about the years I struggled. However, I disagree with the “fixing” part. I NEVER wanted to fix anyone. It’s been a constant correction I’ve had to make as most people assume “oh you’re attracted to wounded people bc you want to fix them.” No no no no. That’s not it. I mistake compassion for love. When someone is wounded, I become overwhelmed with compassion for them, and THIS strengthens the attraction. It’s never about fixing the wound though–how self righteous. Let me fix you? Gross.

I really enjoyed this article, apart fro that detail. Thanks for sharing!

anonymous Jul 10, 2015 1:57am

Hi Alex,

Great article — I appreciate that you wrote it from the perspective of an empath; interestingly, I read it from the perspective of a narcissist, so it was definitely nice to see the other side. I have a few thoughts from the perspective of a narcissist that I'd love to share.

First, I think your article is confusing narcissists with sociopaths. While correlated, they're not one and the same. Narcissists love themselves and know they're awesome. We typically have very high self esteem and frankly think we're just better than everybody else. I don't think narcissists are manipulative (or necessarily try to be). We just think of ourselves as awesome, and we like to put ourselves in situations where our awesomeness is recognized.

When it comes to empathy, we're not the greatest. It's not that we're being manipulative, and it's certainly not about power. It's that we don't understand why you (the proverbial you) are in the predicament that you're in, because we would never be in that same predicament ourselves.

Here's an example. Let's say my good friend just got dumped by his girlfriend. If I were an empath, I would have put myself in his shoes. I'd genuinely feel his pain and feel awful. I might even feel like I had personally been broken up with, and the pain/weight of the breakup would sit with me. I'd have trouble sleeping. I'd worry. I might not be able to eat. All in all, I would feel absolutely awful.

As a narcissist, it's not that I don't care. I genuinely want my friend to be happy! It's just that I put him in my shoes. I got dumped a couple of years back by some girl. And you know what happened? I got over it. Do you know why I got over it? Because I'm awesome. If she didn't want to be with me, it's her bad. She didn't recognize my awesomeness, so too bad for her. Besides, guess what? There are plenty of fish in the sea. And my new girlfriend is waaaay cooler. So good riddance!

So when my friend has a bad breakup, all I can think is, I got over it, I moved on. Why can't you?

And so this is our life. This is our reality. When we see somebody else struggling, we simply think, If you were in my shoes, you'd realize you're awesome and you'd get over it. WHY ARE YOU LAMENTING OVER THIS?! GET OVER IT! MOVE ON!!! And the longer it takes somebody to recover from a tough situation, the more annoyed we get. And this annoyance comes off as uncaring, manipulative, and even mean-spirited.

Like all characteristics, empathy and narcissism fall on a spectrum and are likely classified by a normal "bell curve" distribution. That's to say, there are very few "pure" empaths and there are very few "pure" narcissists. Most of us exhibit traits from both sides, and in my experience, the farther apart a couple is, the more toxic the relationship can become.

I don't believe it's because the empath is trying to heal the narcissist, and I don't believe the narcissist is a power-hungry life-sucker. Rather, I believe it's because both the empath and the narcissist see each other as ultimately flawed. That's right — just as empaths see excess narcissism as a problem, so too do narcissists see excess empathy as a problem. And compared to us, everybody has excess empathy. The empath is constantly trying to get the narcissist to empathize and feel, whereas the narcissist is constantly trying to get the empath to be able to "get over it" and move on.

As many of the comments mention, neither party will ever change, so the relationship can easily turn toxic. Unfortunately though, it's ultimately the empath that gets hurt, not the narcissist. So for better or worse, the burden falls on you, empaths. My advice to you empaths out there is to recognize when you're with a narcissist and realize that you're not going to change them. The narcissist is certainly capable of feeling pain and understanding hurt. But it's very short-lived. We don't understand why you can't quickly recover from the pain. And we never will. If that troubles you now, it will always trouble you. If you're in pain, end it now. It won't get better.

Hopefully this was a helpful glimpse from the other side. Would be glad to follow up if any of you have questions or thoughts.

anonymous Jul 9, 2015 8:10pm

I went through a relationship like this with quite a narcissist and thespian to the gritty, bitter end. He had also described his exes as "crazy bitches" so that really should have been a red flag. But love blinds you. And of course it had to be my first love so pretty much the substance of my being was ripped out of me and even after a year and a half of the break up I still feel like my ability to empathize and be a good person was stolen from me. I unfortunately wanted to fix his problems and put him before myself… Even though he was crazy-making and blaming every problem on me. Too bad I believed him.. He'll keep going through girlfriends thinking he never did anything wrong… Not to be dramatic, but I don't feel like I can go back to the energetic, postive person I was. On a positive note though, many of these statements resonated with me: it's great that there's words out there that describe that whole mess so accurately.

anonymous Jul 9, 2015 2:08pm

I only really learnt about narcissism over the last 6 months. And now I recognise it readily in some people. My dad, one of my previous employers and an ex have had vary levels of narcissistic tendencies. As a counsellor I've started working with clients that are struggling with narcissists too.

I've started a free empath support group for those interested:

anonymous Jul 9, 2015 9:45am

Beautiful piece. Could relate to it too much as an empath. And my ex is a classical narcissist. I kept seeing grandiosity, but I never really saw narcissism until I read this article. It is uplifting to see what you said-

“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.”

It was indeed a painful awakening. And I guess I should label it that henceforth. An awakening. Makes it seem like a male rites of passage. Knowing that some kind of pain is necessary can evoke in me defiant gratefulness.

anonymous Jul 9, 2015 2:55am

These 2 will never get along! A narcisstic family member will never call home to ask what family wants to eat, it is always about favours for him.

The Narcissist thinks everyone loves and owes him favours. Friends, kin, family. Even his gold-digging cunt of an Indonesian gf need to do more than just get farked by him, he wants his chin hair to be plucked, he wants his back massage. LOL

A narcissist does not even hand Chinese New Year packets to his grandchildren (in western context, that will be like refusing to pay for the Christmas turkey or something similar). He thinks he is the center of the universe. It is all about him, not you. So if you praise him enough, he may just give you some attention!

A narcissist also has a tendency to lie or cheat. For example, a narcissist will tell you to cancel your current internet service and use his. Thinking he's such a good guy, you go ahead and did as he suggested. After that, he tells you that the fees you used to pay, you give those very same fees to him. You just realized he was not about saving YOU money.

He probably has no best friend except for the one who's paid for his meals the last 22 years although the best friend owes him nothing and he has several credit cards too.

anonymous Jul 8, 2015 8:19am

Based on the listed traits of a narcissist and an empath, it seems like i'm half and half….very confusing.

anonymous Jul 8, 2015 8:15am

That’s an interesting theory but it’s more likely the ’empath’ is living vicariously through the narcissist. She’s more likely a narcissist herself (albeit a weaker one) and/or likes to play victim. Don’t confuse attention for love. If you’re ignoring loving relationships for all this fake-show caused by a narcissist, then there’s something that needs to be fixed inside yourself. Claiming you’re an empath is avoiding the issue. In fact, calling yourself an empath is painting yourself as a perpetual victim being abused by all those mean people out there. Some people buy it so you can temporarily get-off on playing victim, but it comes at the cost of creating a toxic reality for yourself.

anonymous Jul 8, 2015 3:09am

I am a person with empathic tendencies, and i got together with a man with narcissistic tendencies (I don't think we are each the full spectrum). I observed myself a lot in the 26 months we were together, and i am a big fan of responsibility (here's a very good article on it by my friend…. I disagree with a lot of the portrayal of roles here.

People in general avoid looking at and acknowledging the part they play in their own life and events that take place within it, misfortunes or happy events: we speak of luck when something good happens, and we almost certainly blame others when we are treated badly. But all events in our lives are determined by the worldview we hold within ourselves, mostly unconsciously and invariably inherited from childhood: the beliefs we develop come from what our parents show us through their repeated words and actions.
An empath is no different: the empath understands they need something to be fixed within themselves, but they externalize that need and go about life trying to fix everybody else.
I think what makes a relationship what it is is determined by just the right combination of commonality and opposites: the empath and the narcissist share a deep wounding, they relate and attract on that level, and both have an opposed way of dealing with the wounding: the empath feels and looks within, the narcissist ignores it and seeks self-validation from the outside. The narcissist finds support in the willing empath, the empath seeks a bit of the confidence that they may be lacking in the self-assured narcissist.
The narcissist only takes what the empath offers. The empath equally benefits as they have a need to be received. It is when the empath acts out of a sense of duty, or worse still: sacrifice, that the balance swings to destructive levels. However, it will always be that the empath continues giving, the empath always has a choice to stop giving and set their own boundaries (whilst remaining with the narcissist or not!). After all, if the empath makes their own issues the priority, they wouldn't spend so long indulging the narcissist!
The narcissist has difficulty understanding their own emotions, so naturally they don't get others'.
My narcissist felt 'under attack' whenever i was pointing out behaviours that were not supporting either to me or himself, because of an inability to recognize them after a lifetime of brushing emotions under the carpet, so to speak. Admitting that he may have been adopting an unhelpful attitude would shatter the whole vision he wants to maintain of himself, as he is, like all of us, doing his very best in life and questioning that would question the whole of his 'reality'. And since deep down he feels unvalued, pointing out any inkling of not being valued is just too painful. The difference with the empath is that the empath can feel and deal with the difficult feelings, in fact it may be so used to them that it becomes a modus operandi; seeking that hurt feeling becomes the norm, unconsciously.
My narcissist also felt like i was trying to control him, which of course had some truth as i was attempting to make him aware of the very downfalls he can't acknowledge, i was trying to make him see my point of view, except my intention was to help him realize habits so that they can be changed (my method) rather than turning him into someone i could keep for myself. But honestly, i was offering tools for him to become a better person so that i could stay with him! So that is the very definition of control, isn't it?
In short there isn't a victim: we attract exactly what we need in life to become aware of your own erroneous worldviews so that we can bring them to the light, and change them by opting for a belief that is both true and supporting to living the life we want to live.

anonymous Jul 7, 2015 10:21am

I believe that the band Coldplay may have had a Narcissistic relationship in mind when they wrote the lyrics to their song, "Maddness"

I have a narcissistic Mother. A dear friend of mine, who is also an Empath, shared this article with me.

Your words are very powerful, Alex. And I'm already in awe of your blog. You are a poet, a bard.

Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us here visiting internet land.


anonymous Jul 7, 2015 9:30am

Thank you sharing this information. It explains my 4 year relationship that I recently ended to a letter. This combination is a losing battle. I have placed myself on the Top Shelf where I belong & moved on! ❤️

anonymous Jul 7, 2015 9:28am

For a while in my life i did not know who i was. I think now that im an empath but through the traumatising experience of my mother being married to an extreme narcissist of the worst kind, me and my mother were damaged badly by him. I dont really want to get into the details as he was an extreme narc. He would make me and mother feel worthless to the extent that i couldnt even tell anyone anything because i was stuck in a tiny little shell of anxiety and worthlessness. It seemed as though he would feed off of our fear and our very spiritual energy to keep himself in a position of higher worth and to rule over our lives. We finally built up the courage to get rid of him and force him out of our lives and we've returned to our normal state of being again. I feared though that some of his narcissistic traits had rubbed off on me for a while causing problems in my relationship with my partner who i've been with for 7 years now. I was right but this is where i believe im an empath, even though i had narcissistic behaviours rub off onto me and that i was feeding of others' energy (yes i can admit that now that i've changed) i was able to acknowledge the change i had undergone and recognise what i had become. Me and my girlfriend had some time apart so i could fix myself and eliminate the monster that had been forced into me. This is when i rediscovered myself, my true self, the empath that had always been hiding within waiting to come out of my shell when the time was right. Things have gotten better now though, my girlfriend is also an empath, she wanted to help me get past that stage and transition back to my true empathetic self but there was a part of me that only i could eliminate, its like it wasnt even me thats why i had to abolish it without her so that second side of me that had developed could not feed off of her until i had completely banished it. Now that i have layed that demon to rest we have had a very strong, happy and loving relationship. The point in this story is for all the empaths out there that you can get yourself out of a toxic relationship with these narcissists if you muster the strength to, you just have to believe in yourself and you most certainly must not lose hope. Even if you have become narcissistic yourself you can come back from it and be your true self again. But it all lies within your will to change. It all gets better once you start to make the change. My mother has met a real man who actually cares for her and never feeds off of her empathy but instead inspires her and fuels her empathy. I have recognised who i truly am, destroyed the parasite narc that was growing within me and now it feels great, its like i have eliminated a demon that was inside of me. And i must say it feels awesome to show my girl the and respect that she deserves and to see that smile on her face instead of tears caused by my own assholishness just makes my day. We couldnt be any happier now than ever. Anyone can make it out of any situation even the narcissist can change but you have to recognise whats making things difficult and you need to hold on to your strength and the will to change. I hope you enjoyed sorry if i ranted for too long ><

anonymous Jul 7, 2015 8:59am

I completely understand this dynamic. It is explained so perfectly. I believed towards the end that I was the selfish and controlling one. I have come to realize that all interactions with my narcissist sparked me to behave like narcissist also. It is a very unattractive quality to deal with or to be.

It takes time to grow up and realize the world does not revolve around you and you do not have to be a victim either.

I will stay single for what is rest of my life before I will get entangled with another narcissist! In the meantime, a life with purpose, drive, determination and self worth is pretty amazing! Thank God!

anonymous Jul 7, 2015 6:50am

Firstly, thanks to the writer of the article and the commenters. I think that having these conversations are great. We all have a lot to learn.
I’m not sure that I believe that empaths exist. I grew up with a real narcissistic mother. I fear that the word narcisstic is used liberally. For example, someone treated me poorly, therefore they are a narcissist. Secondly, the reason that I don’t believe that empaths exist is because having grown up with a narcissistic mother, I was cultivated by her to meet her needs and then as an adult I was attracted to what I learned.
That’s not being empathic. That’s being taught poorly and then playing out my poor lessons as an adult. I have learned to have better boundaries, better values, and to value myself.
Finally, if you were trained to be an “empath” by a narcissistic parent, is it not a danger that in a relationship that you will encourage narcissistic behavior from your partner to play out what you knew as a child? Therefore your partner isn’t a narcissistic, they are playing along with what you subconsciously are asking for?

anonymous Jul 7, 2015 12:15am

My narcisist boyfriend was a mirror to me(empath) of the narcisist that I had within myself. We all have a narcisist and we all go through moments where our needs are more important than the needs of others. When I accepted this part of myself… no more attracting narcissists! N's are deeply hurt people and need a LOT of compassion. They love themselves from an ego point of view instead of their heart. They are (sometimes) actually VERY sensative people that have SHUT OFF their empathy because they have not addressed their own pain and some one else in pain triggers theirs and they can't handle it. Please don't demonize these people! I don't recommend staying in a relationship with them, however, calling them out on it doesn't necessarily work either. They are unable to see themselves honestly and the deceiver in them works overtime. Having good boundries and knowing what they are is VERY helpful. That is self love. Namaste

anonymous Jul 6, 2015 11:52am

Insightful article and interesting feed back. I first identified my self by reading a book by marie france hirogoyen entitled stalking the soul:emotioal abuse and the erosion of identity. I took the suggestion that the narcissist is incapable of changing and that rational thinking will never succeed with them and left to save myself. I am reading the narcissists' comments and suggest they have not changed but are offering themselves as vulnerable while trolling for a new empath….

anonymous Jul 6, 2015 10:32am

I am an empath and I definitely experienced what this article aims to describe. My ex and I did identify the fact that he was the narcissist…but what I actually want to talk about is the truth behind this article. There were several times that my ex hurt me in several ways that I can never recover from and every time this did happen, there was NO change made.
As the empath, I did my best to speak up during the relationship. My ex and I had several fights that would end in him walking out, him slamming things, him doing what he wanted to provoke whatever responses he wanted to see. There were times that I would get messages stating one thing…then about half an hour later, he would change his mind. He did get into another relationship later on…only to ask for me back a month later. I did truly view it as you described in the article – there was extreme manipulation that he could not see. I was his toy and if any other male approached me, he would become very insecure. I actually had little to no close friends, especially male, because of this. In addition, everything was about him. I truly know in my heart that after being with him for 4 years…that he is never going to change and that I did dodge a bullet.

anonymous Jul 6, 2015 6:24am

Everyone's an empath on this post, lol. I guess I'm one too 😀

anonymous Jul 5, 2015 4:59pm

Rather than "narcissist" check out borderline personality disorder – in books like "Stop Walking on Eggshells" or "Verbally Abusive Relationships" or just do an online search.This article seems relevant to bpd.

anonymous Jul 4, 2015 7:42pm

I am a narcissist. I think the main point this article hasn’t addressed is the amount of empathy it takes to become a narcissist in the first place… For example, I look at a person, and immediately feel them on a deep level. Mentally and emotionally. I empathize to the point where it is very easy to forget I even exist. Sounds like an empath, but quite not. Once I get a good read on this person, it feels as though there is nothing to say almost. But we do find things to say and ways to interact and even ways to change the way the other person feels – with no malicious intent. We are affected by the other person as well, and we do our best to keep mutually happy. Sometimes, we employ tactics designed to change the mood of the other person… Controlling? Slightly. But that is one of our natural abilities.

Point being, a “narcissist” isn’t an evil being who wants nothing more than for others to suffer and bow at his whim. A narcissist can be someone who is deeply empathetic who knows his own worth at the same time. We all are looking for fulfillment in relationships and life in general, labeling a narcissist in any other shade is unfounded and a bit unfair. Give us credit, we do try really really hard. <3

anonymous Jul 4, 2015 11:03am

I am an empath (or so I believe I am) in a relationship with a very deeply wounded narcissist, and this article literally explains my life.
But I disagree about how you should "find a way out". Not always! If you are the type of person who understands that words are just words, especially since you know the person and their behavior, and learn to give each other space you can definitely be together. We love eachother a lot, we have a bond that is unbreakable, but he does try to play the control card and tries to make me feel bad sometimes. I say "you obviously need some space right now", walk my dog, give him some time. When I finally come back home he is all smiles and wants to cuddle! idk maybe he is just bipolar? haha

anonymous Jul 4, 2015 9:59am

“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.”

Which makes the ’empath’ narcissistic. These are two sides of the same coin-Pride. Both people are thinking of themselves. A narcissist is aggressive in their pride whereas an empath is subversive. Both think they know best and both think it’s their role to ‘fix’ others. Both need help.

anonymous Jul 4, 2015 8:54am

You wont ever get a true narcissist to post on this from their point of view. One of the things I learned (the hard way) about people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder is that they think there is nothing wrong with them. You can have five or ten different people standing there, telling them that their point of view is absolutely wrong and they still wont believe they are wrong or that there is anything wrong with them. It's sad really. Most don't ever get help because they can't understand that this disorder is a real disorder.

anonymous Jul 4, 2015 2:45am

This seems to me like a pretty weak attempt to categorise people in order to reach self validation. Most people have the capacity to display the behaviours of both the empath and the narcissist, and it has more to do with circumstance than some sort of default personality trait. In the aforementioned use of the word narcissist and it's assumed definition it could be argued that such a trait would be necessary in the real world, perhaps in one's career narcissism could be beneficial if used tactfully and in a way that is minimally harmful. That being said empathy is another important trait for one to live a successful and fulfilling life. I guess what I am trying to say is that both of these so called personalities are useful in moderation. Don't subscribe to being one or the other in an effort to find your own identity or fit in somehow, you are both of these things from time to time. Circumstance and situation will dictate which side of the coin you are on predominately. To say you are an empath because someone hurt you and you feel used and that you have been manipulated is simply taking on a victim mentality in order to feel better. Though your ex may have shown themselves at times to be narcissists the odd's are that they were also from time to time empathetic towards you and your feelings. I have just left a relationship and it would be very easy to focus on all of the negative things that happened, at the end of the day though, despite our bad times, we had a lot of good times, the same could be said for pretty much every loving relationship. Look at the whole relationship, don't give in to being the victim and if you still feel you were manipulated, used etc, maybe your partner was predominately in a state of narcissm, though in most cases, this does not make them a narcissist, and equally in most cases you would not have been an empath, each of you were and are both.

    anonymous Jul 7, 2015 5:07pm

    Well said. Thank you for being the voice of reason in what seems like a very generalized article.

    anonymous Jul 7, 2015 10:52pm

    Trust that the definition of both are very real in rare circumstance. I can say with every assurance, that this definition of narcissism is true, in its full context. My recent and overwhelming recognition of an empathetic personality in myself, I find to be true and accurate. This reality is evident after a 22 year relationship, I should have ended long ago. I am now in the throws of protecting my 11 year old child and myself. A very hard reality to be faced with.

    anonymous Jul 8, 2015 11:44pm

    I agree that regardless of which category a person falls into, either through self identification or by another, there are always nuances. I think one thing we can all agree on is neither group should be demonized.
    I identify as an empath, though I've had narcissistic moments in various relationships, romantic and otherwise, and in all of them I felt rewarded in however banal or bizarre a way. Codependence is like the tango–it takes two.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2015 1:57am

    I both agree and disagree with your original post Joe. While some are more balanced, as you describe, some lean heavily in the direction of empathy and others narcissism. Not everyone is the same and you appear to have categorized, in your original post, everyone as being both while defending the narcissist and seeing very much the necessity of that character trait in the world. I’m not disputing that argument by the way. I think there are times when an empath would be well served by taking a more narcissist attitude, but purely for self preservation in a situation with an extreme narcissist. I won’t say “Im sorry you had to deal with that” when it comes to your mother because I just don’t know why she was that way. Perhaps she came from a time or situation where that meant self preservation for her. Therefore she clung to it due to the benefits it reaped for her. Principally, that she, and you, made it through a tough time. That said, from your later posts and what I believe to be an honest telling of your history, I believe you to be very wise with the capacity for both traits. This is the greatest survival strategy and it’s where I agree with you completely, balance as needed. Thank you for your posts and thank you for your time in review of mine should that happen.

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 11:40pm

A narcissist has different levels of characteristics of Narcissism,some are overt,some covert,a overt Narc is easy to spot,most people can’t stand them,but meeting a covert with NPD who has 8 out of 9 traits as my ex did,you are relating to a psychopath,I am an empath,but no ones fool,a real empath is usually someone who will fight and be the voice for most without a voice,this article makes it sound like we are wimps,and submissive fools,having had a relationship with a full blown Narc,I can say,I was manipulated into falling in love,with someone who never existed ,this article is describing someone with low level narcissism,so maybe does not have the disorder,anyone with NPD,has the empathetic part of the brain missing and usually it is genetic, a narc will create another narc.
NPD is now being taken seriously by the mental health community,as an increase in victims is becoming clear,this article is describing codependency,not NPD and empaths.
Yes there is an attraction,but that attraction is only the Narcissistic mirroring us,so we feel like we have met our soul mate,everything they do from the outset,is to get you in,nothing is real as they are incapable of any real emotion,except towards themselves,although unlike a sociopath and psychopath a Narcissist can be wounded.
Downplaying or displaying sympathy for anyone with NPD,is a major mistake,they cannot get help and do not want it,they feel they are superior anyway to a psychologist,and enjoy what they do,they destroy us and then move on.I found they also have a lot of self help books to learn to mimic emotions,because they have none.
Discovering what happened to me and that I was an Empath became empowering and the best revenge you can inflict on a Narcissist is to,keep your empathy and have a meaningful loving relationship,and no contact with the narc ever.
People who stay with them or long for them long after the discard have been trauma bonded to them in the grooming stage,it is not their fault,they were manipulated and tricked into falling in love with their own mirror image.
I now know the signs,the red flags,also being the child of a malignant Narcissist we are always good supply to them as we have a high tolerance to abuse,anyone who is a victim should try joining psychopath free an online support group.

    anonymous Jul 4, 2015 1:48pm

    I completely agree with you.

    Too many people are stating someone is a N but when you have gone through he’ll divorce with one, you see the difference.

    anonymous Jul 13, 2015 10:36pm

    I love what you said. I am that girl that fell in love with a person that never existed. The girl who it took 1½ yrs. to figure that part out. I’m still in the very destructive end of this hell wanting to know how I will do this with no support, all the while living in the home with my Ex- Narcissist boyfriend and our child, whom of course has full sole, physical legal custody of our 9 yr. Old daughter and my 15 yr. Old from a prior relationship. My mother, also an N. I’m scared, confused, very lost to say the least and I’d love any feedback (POSITIVE) that I may get from anyone reading this. Thank you

    anonymous Jul 28, 2015 12:08am

    Exactly. Thank you for saying that eloquently and with out any anger. I felt the same way reading the article. Im an empath, but not extreme codependant. I learned as a teen in alteen to create boundries and where my self worth was. I learned that the abuse was not my fault. I grew to be very independant but extreme empathetic to all. I work on it because taking on anothers’ energy becomes tiresome but it is something I value greatly as a person. There is a big difference between codependance and empath. Thank you for saying it so well.

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 11:16pm

This is very true. I am an empath, and I have had many relationships (both friendly and romantic) with narcissistic people. I have had people use me, take me for granted, and then some how turn the blame to me. I was not always without blame for certain things, however I realize that most people will just take until there is nothing left, then get mad at you for having nothing. I see it happen to my empathic friends as well. It's everywhere you look. I just try to keep all social contact to a minimum as far as getting close to people, because I have enough of my own problems to handle as it is. I can't continue to let people hurt me over and over and run back for more just because "this time will be better."

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 6:42pm

The only thing I learned today is that apparently every female on the internet claims to be an empath.

    anonymous Jul 17, 2015 1:10pm

    Totally! It takes two to make a toxic relationship. People just need to move on and not over analyze everything.

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 6:15pm

As an empath raised by a narcissist, i related to quite a bit of this article but, as you can imagine, not quite in the way that it was written. It wasn’t until recently that I realized my parent was a narcissist and that it was this dynamic that created the majority of my depression. It took me moving away for many years and coming back as an independent, educated psychologist to realize a thing or two but if I never did that, I would have never woken up to all of the manipulation and the mind games. Whenever I went to her for anything, I always walked away from her feeling more empty and alone and never understood why. I get it now. I am the empath and she is the narcissist. Thanks for writing this article. I’m sure it will help a lot of people.

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 12:50pm

Having maintained a friendship with a narcissist for 5 years, I've just learned I've had to be hyper aware of practicing self-care. When I feel it taking that downward spiral, I DO step back, cut down on the contact, until I'm ready; knowing there will be no apology coming from the other side. I'm not sure how this would work in a romantic relationship/ marriage, but it's worked for my friend and I…

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 8:20am

Is it possible that a relationship between two damaged empaths can manifest almost exactly like this?

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 6:50am

I think your defenition needs work
I display many of the traits you categorized as empathic such as introversion, shyness, inquisitive nature. However I am very aware that overall I fall under the narcissistic category. In your article you paint a picture of someone who just wants to hurt for the sake of causing pain and feeling powerful. This is an extreme generalization. Although I cannot sympathize with the pain of others I do not relish in it. Being a narcissist can be very lonely I cannot relate to others the way normal people can and it can be very isolating. it’s not just pain that I can’t relate to I can’t be happy for my friends when I know I should be because I just don’t understand. I know what my own happiness is but I can’t understand theirs. while I can understand the desire for control I do not Express this as dominance over other people particularly significant others. Not all narcissists are sadists. and while being an empath may allow you to play the victim (not that I’m denying you are a victim) I wish the world had more tolerance for people like me. In my experience empaths only understand their own kind and ate quick to write me off as wierd and not worth the effort. I understand their judgement that I am not like them but cruelty comes in many different forms. So to all the empathy out there please be aware that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they are broken or monsters

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 4:55am

Excellent article AND excellent comments. I would just add a couple of things:

Empaths won’t just try to fix the narcisist (heal their pain), the empath will try to fix what is externally wrong in their life – whatever new thing is causing pain, the empath will try to remediate.

Narcisists pretty much have NO IDEA what they are. This is just how they see the world, and it’s “normal” to them. They are such skillful manipulators, they don’t even have to think about it – they just do it.

Narcissists actually are empaths gone wrong. They are extremely sensitive – it’s part of why they are such supreme manipulators.

And, with everything I have said, and everything the article says, you must always realize that there are gradations of everything. When we state something in strong absolutes, it’s so you can draw a laser focus on it and identify it. I spent 25 years trying to save a narcisist, because he was such a lovely and subtle one, and his empathic side was apparent to me and extremely attractive, and because nobody ever painted the picture for me to see. I did finally leave, but it absolutely broke my heart to do so. Thank you for this article. It would have been much easier to leave if I’d had access to it at any point during those 25 years. Now, it’s just a comfort, and something I will remember on the odd occasion when I get a pang of “could I have done something different?” (Lol – the answer is “YES! You could have left long, long ago!)

    anonymous Jul 5, 2015 4:33pm

    You make a great point. I didn't approach it as fixing the other person either. But when I see disharmony in my world, I do all in my power to learn from it and shift it. My situation was one where I just couldn't shift it (and they blocked me at every chance to talk about it, understand eachother, all the normal things I'd do to build a bridge).

    And it's funny. I don't worry about myself as I'm emotionally resilient and have that toolkit. But the narcissist's "normal" can be so twisted and they don't have that toolkit. I agree too – sooo sensitive. So two sensitive people, just one projects pain outward, the other inward.

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 3:35am

Truth is also- in the end all of us, somewhere in our lives, has shown narcisitic – and empathic traits. Narcisism is the taker and the empath is the giver. It's the rule of nature trying to balance out a relationship between black and white, but at the end can lead to destruction if the other part does not wish to be a part of the journey…

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 3:24am

Change is possible on every single level. As the guy says, we are born with unconditional love in our hearts, and are givers out of nature – we want to give and connect to others. I’ve been through a relationship which was very much alike what you descripe, but the main problem was that is was too hard for my male counterpart to change and flip his view of the world, he wanted to feel stuck in his old ruined habbits, because that was what he knew, and facing confrontations was the hardest thing for him to do. He cared, but he did not dare to confront the challenge, because he felt safe if he stuck to the old frames, and I was sacrificing myself way too much for him.

I myself has unfortunately inherited narcisistic traits from my biological father. He has the biggest ego in the world and my mother is the opposite, I’ve gotten both their traits. Then I need to ask myself: what do I prioritize? Do I want make a constant positive change to the world, help and smile at others? Or do I want to be self-centered and think nobody else is better than me? The answer is pretty obvious.

I’ve been through hard times which is great, doubt did become my friend, insecurity became my friend, because in that state of mind, you become humble – and thankful for what you have. Those emotions were healthy for me to have, and the relationship basically just taught me to grow up and don’t expect things from your partner, if he does not wish to change – so be it.

To me life is a journey, a journey which never ends, and it is great to have somebody who is naturally willing to take a part of that journey with you, that they are also willing to change for the better with a smile on their glorious face. But in the end we should remember that we only have ourselves, and we can only change what we want, we cannot change another person, they stand by themselves. But choosing to be an empath naturally came to me, and by that I want to edit your last quote “We are born empaths with open hearts, but as we grow up, we might encounter narsicistic traits, because of different causes. As a narcisist your heart can become closed, but is is possible to open up again, if you are willing to change your way of thinking about the world”.

It’s all about courage – being strong enough to face the mistakes you’ve done in the past, or forgive what has been done to you and move on. Because if we do that, and only listen to our heart’s intend we are loving beings all of us….

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 3:04am

there is a lot of help and information out there to help victims and empaths etc. but i am coming from a place where I am the bully, I am the narcissist, I hate being this way, I try and try and try to change, but the cycle just repeats itself eveytime. I would like to kow where can I go for help?

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 1:00am

So true that the wounds of these two types of people tend to become entangled in an increasingly toxic way. In working with empaths, it's become clear that most empaths also have something very important:
They sense at the VERY beginning of the relationship that it's not right for them.

Even though there is a hook to take care of this other person and help them to heal, empaths also have a deep intuitive capacity to notice what's right for them. Their first gut impression is incredibly accurate. The challenge comes if you tend to silence your gut feeling and keep seeing the person. What happens is, after an initial date or a few, you go on to get "hooked."

Our brains are wired to "hook" to one another, creating an attachment that is a special bond with those who are closest to us. It's an adaptive capacity – it keeps small children safe by creating an attachment to parents who will protect them.

The attachments we form in early life become a template for future relationships. When that template involved an insensitive parent or regularly being emotionally overloaded and having your boundaries trampled, it's likely you'll end up with a deep capacity for empathy. In this case, the template created in childhood isn't likely to lead to adult relationships that feel good. In fact, it's a template that has to be reworked in order to make good love possible. If you grew up with a parent who was like this, your path is to learn to be okay with being treated VERY WELL. And to expect to be treated with love consistently.

The first step on this path is to become an expert at treating yourself very well. When you're able to do this reliably, it's much, much easier to accept the wonderful loving attention and care of a partner who can grow with you. I created a program (free) to support people in their self love journey here:

With appreciation for your wisdom and beautiful story,

    anonymous Jul 3, 2015 5:04am

    Wow – I love what you said about sensing at the very beginning that they are not right for you. With me, just a couple of months in, I had a vision. (I have these typically in the morning, laying there quietly waiting for the alarm to go off.) Suddenly I saw a wolf in front of me. He spoke, and said "spell anathema". Then he disappeared. I had to go look up "anathema" because it was a word I was not familiar with. I understand now my instinctual self was trying to tell me that this spell I was under was a curse. This was so intense that I remember it now, 27 years later.

      anonymous Jul 3, 2015 9:48pm

      Wow, Celeste. What a powerful vision and intuition.

      I had a similar intuitive dream about a man I dated when we met early on where he was a like a zombie, injuring people and walking around with his hand half cut off, bleeding and unaware he was injured. Needless to say, it did not go well. I fell in love, and later he broke off our relationship saying, "I like you more and more, the more we hang out. That's why I can't see you anymore."

      So wonderful you are in tune with that quiet, knowing voice inside you.

      Take good care,

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 12:14am

Well written! Described my life for the past two years, I have been in a relationship doing everything I could to make this person happy and content and nothing I ever did lasted for very long. I was always the problem, I didn’t do this or I did this to piss him off. It was constantly my fault. I’m left feeling like an utter failure both in life, in love and in general.

anonymous Jul 3, 2015 12:03am

This kind of situation is extremely unfortunate because of the difference of nature. It is very unfair to put the blame on the narcissist. If it is his nature then how is he suppose to help it. Recognizing a narcissist is not that difficult, actually most of them like to kinda flaunt it. So the so called empath shouldn’t say he wasn’t warned.
The empath tries to be the healer. Why ? To feel good himself is that not a kind of narcissism. Every person has a narcissistic and empathetic side, classifying people doesn’t make sense. The people claiming to be empaths are usually very sensitive. They feel even more than what is really happening. In my experience, the empaths in their favorite hobby of empathy starts ti dwell on the narcissist’s emotions. They want to be praised for their efforts which include constantly bugging the other person with are you feeling alright? I think you are upset. Is that also not a form of emotional abuse
And then finally the other person gets fed up and tries to find some space there comes the never ending list of I did this for you, it doesn’t mean anything to you ? To be honest, those exact efforts of yours were the problem, dear.
So, whats the solution? Leave the narcissist alone. He is a human too and continuously telling/implying to someone that he is not good enough will surely force them to go away. If they have arrived at the stage of just let it go then please let it go. Thanks

    anonymous Jul 3, 2015 7:33am

    Epaths can't comprehend the acts of a narcissist unless one is educated in that area or has been stung by one. My own counselor didn't even understand the phenomena. I appreciate this article because it helps educate empaths. Yes, empathy's have an inherent drive to help, heal etc. There is actually scientific evidence that we are born with the ability to feel other people's emotions. Trust me, it has its challenges. Your comment makes it sound like it's a choice. The main point of article is warning folks so they don't get brainwashed, gaslighted , etc. It's a manipulation game and empaths don't see it. So yes we will gladly leave narcissists alone, that's the point of article. But recognizing it is something empaths don't do very well. And no we don't want to be praised, we want a normal relationship and to help others.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 10:29pm

You are spot on, excellent insight. It's such a mind warp that one loses themselves and we end up asking "What just happened?" I'm actually a mental health therapist and the narc cycle, idealize, devalue and discard was never discussed in grad school. I'm also an empath and entered the world of narc/empathy cycle. I had no idea how weak my boundaries were, I truly had no reason to develop them. I had no idea 10% of population are psychopaths/narcs. Everything you discussed happened to me. One thing my ex did was give me spontaneous intermittent of vulnerability. He knew how to sway me, it worked almost 6 years, luckily the abuse became so bad I have no choice to leave. What a ride it's been:( Life goes on and we are changed empaths, we now have x-ray glasses!

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 10:28pm

I'm so very glad I read your article but it was also so very difficult to read. I am an empath and always have been but when I'm not emotionally involved with someone, I can see the personality traits clearly. I've been wounded through my childhood and I still have difficult relationships with my blood family.

I have a history of relationships with narcissist's and always seem to come into people's lives when they have problems and I try to fix them. I even work in a field where I help people but come into contact with people who are narcissistic and are victims in life. My current boyfriend/lover is a narcissist – I know this…..Its not so much about getting out of the relationship because he doesn't give anything back to me. I'm still struggling with the whole finishing the relationship stuff.

After reading your article I realise that I must work on myself so that my happiness in life is NOT dependent on being needed by others.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 9:15pm

this is very interesting. i have read some people align with both characteristics and so do i. i have never really thought about narcissism until this year in marriage therapy and the counsellor said my father was one. I also came to a realisation that i am an empath. I have know for a very long time that i am empathic but funnily never thought of myself as an empath?! I have always been sensitive to others and their energy. This year (without making this story too long), I am now separated from my husband because of a violent outburst from me. Honestly, i is not the first time. but to understand it, one must be in muy shoes. The triggers of betrayal and hitting my head against a wall trying to fix things, trying hard to communicate in so many ways and not having any progress. My husband was attracted to me because of my nurturing nature, and my strength both in nature and physically. He himself is a very caring person but to me, it has seemed only for me. And animals. But one of our issues has always been that i consider him walking around in his world! so your article is interesting but doesn't really help me resolve on which side i fall the most. I grew up with a very intimidating father and only recently have i cut contact with him because we became foster parents. My fathers advice when i told him about our 2.5 yr old boys outbursts with head butting and kicking were to do the same thing back. when i disapproved he became angry because i was having a go at his parenting methods of me. At the time i said i had forgiven him but i haven't. It haunts me now and now i have lost my husband. so what is all this ranting about. I feel wounded. by my father, by my husband. am i the narcissist????

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:24pm

Thank you for this article. I went through a very similar situation. I went through some things that I never thought anyone would ever do to another person. And the sad thing is is that even after everything, after all the things my ex did, I still love him and want to be with him. In my mind I know our relationship was toxic and that it’s a blessing that we are no longer together. But the fact that I still want to be with him is proof that I myself am very damaged.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:02pm

This beautifully summed up my last 2 1/2 year relationship. I have a degree in Psychology, but this right here….THIS speaks to everything I have lived. It is interesting concept to analye, two different personalities and how they work together. My “fixing” spirit, after a few months and long chain of events, almost broke me too badly. I truly lost myself for a little while. And i always put the blame back on other external factors and MY way of handling things. I always thought i could do better. But nothing was ever gained from continuing to try. At the same time, nothing made me turn my back on the man I loved. Empath’s are givers and this situation -these relationships-are sinply not fixable. It is hard to understand when you are in it…kind of like being so far under water you can just barely see the light. I was drowning and did not realize i had submerged myself into something that would continually pull me deeper. Never once did I feel like “my narcissist” helped me…he was never there to save me. And especially when i needed it the most. He managed to isolate me so far away from my friends and family, creating even more difficult circumstances to get out of. Me being fully dedicated to him just boosted his ego and made HIM feel better. Something that is selfish-selfish love ALWAYS fails. But the empath will continue to fulfill their destiny of tryig to please….as this article explains it will never, ever be enough. Thank you for sharing this article!!

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:01pm

Wow. You just described an old relationship of mine to a tee. Thank you so much for that insight.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 7:04pm

You're over-analyzing things because you're an empath. In my view, the narcissist doesn't give a hoot either way- and for the most part is quite unaware of their surroundings. Even when made aware, still doesn't give a hoot so it's pointless to even examine it further.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 6:53pm

I was a NAR towards my EMP partner, i’m Open and Honest about the way i was if you would like to know more. x

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 6:12pm

Alex, I really appreciate your perspective and it’s clearly the product of difficult experiences. This essay displays a somewhat purist look into these personality types. People are people. I’ve known narcissists that are downright villainous in their treatment of others, but I’ve know far more that are just people that naturally look inward ~ which is neither a positive or negative thing really. It’s just how they’ve learned to live. I struggle with narcissistic tendencies and your characterization of what makes a narcissist and how they perceive the world is in some ways spot on. But in some ways it also seems one-dimensional. I would hate to be labelled a narcissist, because there is far to me than that, including the parts that actively work to be a better friend and partner to the people I know and love (or otherwise), to be present and contributing to the world around me. There are so many valuable points to this essay, I would just temper it with the knowledge people are rarely purely one thing or another ~ we’re all fruit cocktails of personality types. But you’ve got me thinking about this, I’m going to try and take a stab at writing about the other side of this experience and possibly my own experiences with empaths. I have experienced much this dangerous cycle you describe, but I firmly believe that a healthy relationship can exist. With balance and awareness, all things are possible.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 6:00pm

how does one get out?

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 2:52pm

Yup…it's taking me 2 1/2 years to get over being manipulated by this woman. It wasn't even sexual or that kind of relationship. She was in trouble needing help and I found myself helping her financially, listening to her emotional out bursts for hours on end. I felt like I was being infected with a disease. I started to back away because it was exhausting being around her. She noticed my back peddling and disconnected immediately from me. This left me pretty much destroyed. She's stuck in my head. I can't get rid of her. What the hell is that?? Good article. It describes my situation exactly.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 1:58pm

Thank you so much for this article. It came at the perfect time when I have been working through all the learning from my own situation. I think there is a tendency to think these kinds of situations are dramatic, violent, and abusive. But the one I’m recovering from now wasn’t any of that, and actually the narcissist has a fair bit of awareness and most would consider a very good person. So it can happen to different degrees to everyone.

I notice there is a tendency to reject narcissists and to hold the opinion that they should be avoided, they won’t change, etc. There is truth to this, especially for the more dramatic cases. However, I feel avoidance causes us to miss the lessons we can glean from this and contribute to making the situation more dramatic. There are many lessons, but here is one:

A dear friend passed on a great article about shame being the root cause of narcissism. I agree. And I think Shame is another layer of this to ponder. A narcissist, I notice, outwardly projects the shame they feel inside. I remember feeling punished in subtle and not so subtle ways for the most minor things that actually didn’t even need reprimanding. It’s mean, but it’s the way they show what their inner life is like. And despite me responding with kindness or at times pointing out how unfair and not real that perspective was… their shame is a tough egg to crack.

Me, on the other hand, have also carried shame. But an introverted/empathic way of handling shame is turning the punishing inward. So it’s like we’re two peas in a shame pod. If I look at my life, I haven’t really done much that is shameful or to be ashamed of. I also think we all have some shame inside of us, and it’s not necessarily all bad. But what I think I have done, is adopted bits of other people’s shame and family/ancestral shame, and perhaps this amplified any I created myself. Being a sensitive, heart-opened person (the empath), I feel the emotions of others and without awareness, I keep it inside of me. And so I think this formed a very subtle, hidden away undercurrent of feelings that at times has influenced my decisions & actions.

So a very good teacher the narcissist becomes to me. They have an amplified version of shame that I can see on the outside. My natural tendency is to absorb that, but because I got a super dose of shame from another person and not just from within me, eventually my inner empowerment kicked in and started rejecting and changing this habit of absorbing feelings. The way they projected shame felt worse than my normal version of inner shame, so I did something to change it.

It’s actually quite beautiful, that the narcissist unknowingly helped me become healthier and to have stronger awareness and boundaries.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 1:11pm

i agree with what others have said…that this article makes empaths sounds good and narcissists bad. it seems like to me there are emotionally healthier and unhealthier versions of empaths. if i'm getting my empath self into relationships with narcissists, i'm probalby playing out some unhealthy empath traits. this kind of empath sounds totally wounded as well coming INTO the relationship, not just after narcissm dude gets all takey takey.

i don't hear the term codependent much anymore but when i read this article, i wondered if codependent and unhealthy empath are the same thing? seeking to get love by giving and giving.<–unhealthy

i do think it's possible for a fairly healthy empath to get duped. but if the duping is a 'thing' that happens more than once, i'd look for the empath to see what was up with them that they missed the clues.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 11:19am

This article is great and so on point as I can relate to every aspect of it. As someone who works in mental health I naturally became the empath trying to ‘rescue’ my ex the narcissist. Even knowing what I know about mental illness I got sucked in because narcissists can be that manipulative and it can be hard to spot at first.
My ex definatekt had some sort of personality disorder and did many unbelievable things to me. Luckily I fought back and left realising that he couldn’t be fixed because he couldn’t even see the full extent of his problem.
He gave me the spiel about getting help and knowing what he did wrong, he knew what to say but when it came to doing something about it he often fell short.
My lesson for every empath is to look at their actions rather than their words as they will certainly have an excuse for not doing what they should. And even then, they won’t change because you want them to or think they should. They will only change if they want to. So walk away, save yourself a lot of pain and emotional damage and most importantly don’t feel bad because they didn’t feel bad about hurting you.
Everyone has a different story so this advice may not be helpful to all but I would want to save any empath from a narcissist so they can avoid what I had to endure.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:49am

As an empath, I found my way into a co-narcissist's life. He had been with a very troubled narcissist for 23 years, played that game way to long and has clear victim mentality crap. I got put when I realized he could not self correct and was not going to get help. Bub-bye, but not before I became ill from the emotional vacuum and stress of the relationship. My advice, when you see it, run.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:43am

To Ann: my words of advice is “run” as fast as you can. Regardless of what other people think of this man.It’s better to be alone than to live in misery.use that time to think about why you got into this kind of relationship to begin with . Best of luck to you

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:41am

You probably just saved my sanity! Putting what I knew to be true into words is so healing. Cycle broken! Thankyou! Thank you! Thank you!

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 8:30am

Thank you, thank you for this article. I had a painful situation years ago with an old boss,I quit the job and cut off the ties with her completely. I've been dealing in recent years with another situation and didn't put the tie together until this article. I cannot tell you what an Ah-Ha moment this was for me!! I literally took back my personal power simply by reading through it. Spot on.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 7:44am

Im both a narcissist and an empath and i fell in love with a same type of person. We went through hell but empathy, love and acceptance for the significant other by both of us has healed the toxic part in the relationship.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 7:24am

I read your article and I agree with a lot of the statements that you made….But – I want to state something to you and anyone else out there that believes this to be completely true. Empaths, Narcissists, Manic Depressives, Bi-Polar, etc, etc, etc….Labels that we give each other to help understand better. Really, what we ALL are is hurt people. Hurt from experiences in our childhood, adolescence, or adulthood that were done by others. How we handle the pain is who we are. I am an Empath, and my fiancé is most definitely a Narcissist. We have been together for almost 4 years. We are both over 36 and we have both had bad relationships, children, and divorces. We are both broken in some way. BUT, with work and dedication, communication, counseling…we have grown closer and started to understand where each other comes from. Nothing comes easily. I have even watched my parents with 40 years of (what I believe to be) a perfect marriage, still have their ups and downs. Even though they have tried, they have not always been the best of partners to each other. I recall disagreements and arguments and tears as a child. Life creates puzzles that need to be solved and sometimes the pieces get strewn about….but in the end they have learned how to put it back together what is most important.

In the case of what you are writing about, I feel a little differently than you. What happens to the Empath is that they get drained…..because they ARE giving. So much so that they lose some of themselves in the process. A Narcissist is a taker. That is what they do. They think it is all about them. My fiance jokes all of the time, “I’m not much but I am ALL I think about”, and he is right! He really does think about himself a lot! If a Narcissist is with an Empath, then OF COURSE they are going to take frequently, because the Empath is willing to give! That is probably what attracted them to each other in the first place! What we are missing here IS ~~~ drum roll~~~ BOUNDARIES. If there are no boundaries, then one will give too much and the other will just keep taking. I was raised to always see things from the other persons view, to walk a mile in their shoes. That is why I am with a Narcissist in the first place. Because I see why he is hurt and what he needs. What has taken me years to realize is, I am not a fixer. I cannot fix him. And no matter how much I give him, it will never be enough. I have been left to feel as an empty shell and tossed to the side. And it took me a while to be aware of the relationship issues and not blame myself for his unhappiness. SO, I have set boundaries. I will no longer accept unacceptable behavior. I will no longer tolerate him crossing my lines. He understands now where my lines are and is more careful not to cross them. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – because God knows this man is still all about himself sometimes- but with COMMUNICATION there can be some headway. He has most definitely gotten better and I know that I have too.

A message to the Narcissists out there. You are worthy of great love. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in your past and open yourself up for someone to love you fully and for YOU TO FULLY LOVE as well. Listen to your lover and care for their heart. Cherish them. If they give to you the kind of unconditional love that you crave so badly, thank God for your gift and enjoy it while it lasts.

A message to the Empaths too. You are also worthy of great love – but it has to start with love of yourself first. If you give so much to someone that you are completely drained and your personality is altered….It is time to think about yourself. That may sound Narcissistic….and it is in a way….but your existence is not solely based on what you give to one person….it’s the gifts that you give to ALL. Take care of yourself and learn to lovingly detach. It really does take work because you are so prone to fixing all and trying to make people happy. Stop it! You can’t MAKE someone happy. That comes from within them. If someone takes from you and refuses to give back , it’s time to set them free and regain what little of you is left. After all, in counseling we have been taught that relationships are not 50/50. They are 100/100. Each person gives 100% of what they are capable of for the other. And when someone is down, the other is there to lift them up and vice versa. It has helped us. Good luck.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 6:33am

Nice article. I though about me being an empath but didn't take it seriously. I always wanted to help others or show them compassion. But when I read
'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.', it made me think twice about my need to help other constantly.
The relationship I'm in at the moment might be similar to what is described in the article. Although he is nice and kind, he has a closed heart that does not allow anyone/anything in.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 5:23am

I'm married to a narcissis. I feel like it is killing me inside. This is my 2nd marriage. My first husband cheated. I don't want to be divorced again. I need to fix this. But, as the arrival states they can't see what they are doing. I feel as if he has no heart. Trying to talk to him does no good. Even marriage counseling isn't helping. If I open up at all he just uses it against me. My home isn't safe. Not because of psychical abuse. But because of mental and emotional. I almost wish he would hit me. Then people could see what kind of person he truly is. As of now evwryone thinks he is the best person ever. I'm told all the time how lucky I am. And all I can think is I wish I didn't have to wake up tomorrow. I'm being emotionally suffocated. But how do you walk away from a man that everyone loves? I'm not looking for an answer to that. I'm just praying that God will work in his heart. Or rather give him a heart.

    anonymous Jul 2, 2015 10:34am

    Why is it anyone else’s job to fix your situation? If you truly feel this way about this person, then who cares what anyone else thinks about him? The truth will always be revealed, so while people may think you’re crazy for leaving something so good, you can take solace in your safety, and the fact that the mask always falls away. Also, there are so many amazing people out there, why is it such a problem for you to be alone, able to meet and explore new relationships with them? The question you must ask yourself is whether it’s more difficult to go it alone, or to stay in a relationship you feel is destroying you. There’s only light at the end of one of those tunnels. I sincerely hope that you find a way to take your destiny back into your own hands, and to stop allowing yourself to be miserable. It’s true that we can be put in circumstances due to the actions of others, but at the end of the day our feelings about the situation, and the path we choose to take from there are our own.

    anonymous Jul 2, 2015 10:47am

    Ann, my 1st husband was a cheater, 2nd husband was a narcissist. 8 years of hell! The more I tried to “fix” our marriage, the more he took advantage of me. Finally, the greatest gift he gave me was a divorce 2 weeks ago (he left me). I can breathe again. I am sad about another failed marriage, but relieved at the same time because he will not allow himself to see the pain he has caused his entire family. Please help yourself. People will gossip about you for a while, then they will move onto someone else. They are not worth your sanity. Nobody is. Hopefully, one day your husband will love himself enough to get help, but rite now, you need to remind yourself that you tried really hard. Now that you know the warning signs, you will be able to protect yourself in the future. Good luck to all of us.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 3:35am

You summed up the last 20 odd years of my life. It took 2 years, counselling and hiding away from the world to recover from my relationship with my ex. About a year after we split up I discovered the term narcissist and realised that’s exactly what he was. I had never heard of empaths either, but realised that was me in a nutshell. I’m recovering. But it’s been a long journey. I know myself better. I have learned to protect myself and I can spot a control freak very quickly. Oh how loud those alarm bells ring! I blamed myself for a long time. It’s what empathy do. I should have tried harder, been more patient, kept my mouth shut….etc, but no. You can’t give yourself like that over to other people. Narcissists by definition believe they are better than everyone else and the rest of us are here to uphold that distorted viewpoint.

anonymous Jul 2, 2015 1:03am

I am an Empath, and I can say that Most of my relationships were with Controllers, but I was simply unaware that people could be that way until I married one. OMGosh! I learned a lot about Narcissists and I learned it slowly. I Finally left her after 8 years! Such a mistake! Not one single narcissist I have ever known has been able to stop themselves from being TOXIC! NOT 1!!! If you are a Narcissist, you need to seriously evaluate your health and seek counseling. Your Pain can be dealt with if you get help, but living your life as a victim will only ruin your life and you will probably take one or more loved ones with you! I almost didn't survive my marriage, and if I had stayed in that relationship she would have driven me to suicide. Get help, because the last thing you want to have on your conscience, is the death of a loved one. And Children need healthy parents, not wounded victims that are toxic.

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 11:27pm

How does an empath block a narcissist from entering their energy field? What would the writter suggest for an empath in a negative situation when it is work related & the narcissist is your boss?

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 11:03pm

This sounds like the Karpman Drama triangle in families which are non nurturing where the roles of persecutor, rescuer and victim continuously switch. Awareness is key to navigating relationshipz

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 11:03pm

Thank u for such incredible insight. I’ve recently gotten out of a 7yrs situation….. Still trying to figure out how and why I stayed. And this explains it exactly. Also why I can never go back. It’s like u wrote about the last 7 years of my life

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 10:40pm

I think this article quite literally saved my life. In spite of all the comments criticizing it (which I’m sure the author genuinely appreciates because it can only help her improve), I loved this article. Coming from someone who’s been in an extremely toxic relationship for a couple of years now, and having so many questions … this answered them all. Not only was it educational, but life changing and so very eye opening. Thank you.

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 5:17pm

You may never read this….. but I think you have touched down on allot of good points here. Speaking as someone who began as what you call an “empath”, and ended as a narcissist who needed healing after, however I feel you are falsely naming the problem… to be blunt this phenomena is called EMOTIONAL ABUSE…. And although well written what you describe is not always the case and can portray the wrong meaning to viewers. The phenomena you are talking more about is an emotional abusive relationship between someone who is unhealthy and someone who is healthy. you are right about the abuser being damaged however most often or not when the “narcissist” (abuser) realizes the “empath” (victim) is withdrawing they don’t walk away…. In a relationship as you describe the abuser will attach stronger to the victim And do everything in there power to regain control (speaking from experience)…. Unless completely cut from the victims life the abuser continues to latch on to the victim….. I enjoyed your article but call it what it is …… EMOTIONAL ABUSE….. Spread the right kind of awareness and don’t give false pretences or other names to the problem !!!

Thanks for reading

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 1:52pm

What if a person is a narcissist and an empath ?

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 11:04am

Beware when somebody analyzes something and the result casts the analyzer in a very positive light and the other party in an almost completely negative light. This writer has been wounded and is striking back in an passive/aggressive manner (something people who would consider themselves "empaths" can be somewhat prone to, in my experience). Nothing is this black and white, and tendencies are tendencies. If her description is accurate, she's describing a borderline psychopath.

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 10:54am

The best way for an empath to deal with a narccisist…is to ignore them til they come back…then you can deal with it on your own terms…which is basically being a narccisist…then they will behave and treat you on level ground, and actually respect you more for it. Then when you do something nice for them they don't abuse it…

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 8:30am

Is it narcissistic to call yourself an empath?

    anonymous Jul 2, 2015 1:32pm

    As an empath married to a narcissist, the only thing that broke the horrible cycle was leaving him. Telling him. Didn’t love him anymore 2 years later my narcissist was recycled into a pretty great guy who recognized what he had and he busted his ass to get it back. A year of dating before I moved back and to this day when ever he tries using that crap on me I now have the backbone and self respect to just say no. He knows I’m not afraid to leave. I have the man I love and he has a woman who ain’t gonna be his whipping post. 16 years and counting!

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 6:56am

Are you saying that an empath can never be hurt, or the empath becomes a narcissist when they become hurt? That is ridiculous. Anyone could feel hurt if someone is mean, and other things. Sometimes you can believe the best of others, or want to believe the best of another, and that person does something different; something you wouldn't do and it shocks you. The article is confusing because it sounds to me like you are saying, if you are an empath, you should never care about how anyone else treats you or you will end up a narcissist. A narcissist, by definition, is not someone who is trying to become validated and feel worthy. It is someone who is so into themselves that they don't care about anyone else, and my understanding of the real meaning of narcissist is that it is a person who believes so highly of themselves, they don't really care what anyone thinks. It is not the person who just has healthy self esteem and doesn't allow others to tear them down. It sounds like to be okay you need to be a robot by your article.

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 4:43am

I figured out at an early age that I was an empath. My first wife was a narcissist and it did not go well. What happened when I got my strength back after being bullied and physically and emotionally beaten by her was an eye opener. I left and 3 weeks later she was in the hospital under a psych evaluation. She was diagnosed manic depressive and had a psychotic break with reality. I realized that I was probably the only thing that had been keeping her grounded and once I left the cuckoo tried to fly on it's own and crashed and burned. I since have avoided narcissists like the plague. I can feel them now, I see the pain they are in AND the pain they cause and I feel physically ill in their presence. I know I can not fix anyone but other than a narcissist I can bring some relief, some love, and some attention which helps them in the healing process, and when they feel the healing power of that love and it helps them it energizes me more than anything else in the world.

anonymous Jul 1, 2015 2:26am

I think defining anyone indefinitely as an empath or a narcissist is damaging to a persons personality.

There is a great possibility someone that is too far in the extreme of the 'empath' will at some stage in life switch polarity and become a 'narcissist' at another time in their life and cycle between these two roles over time.

I don't think the empath and the narcissist are terribly dissimilar.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:41pm

Hi Alex, why is the empath so compelled to fix people? My suspicion is that it’s also a result of being wounded – just a stylistic difference. It’s a parasitic relationship: the narcissist provides boundaries & separateness for the empath & the empath provides access to emotion & validation for the narcissist. The wounding of an empath/narcissist pair attracted to each other is probably equal. Careful not to make the empath the good guy & the narcissist the bad guy. The reality is that most people fall on a continuum between empath & narcissist stylistically. Also it feels wrong to say empaths can heal but narcissists cannot. Both styles are just people. Wounded people.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:40pm

As a narcissist, I can tell you that we believe WE are the empaths. That it is truly in the best interest of everyone to let us be in charge and have all of the answers for your sake. It’s hard to realize that’s inaccurate because our self esteem is so low that we don’t know how to cope with the idea that we’re wrong.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 7:41pm

Reading this I can easily relate to the narcissistic side, but also to the empath. There is the desire to help others, improving their situation so as to avoid feeling as I did when such help could not be found. At the same time, I am aware (and warned my now-wife) of my own tendency to take advantage of it when somebody starts doing things for me or otherwise providing too much assistance.

I see how she has changed since we got together, but I can’t tell what is by her choice trying to make me happy and what is caused by being with me for too long.

The same reason I have no interest in a pet animal leads me to believe I am not somebody to be with long term: too much attention to myself and not enough to those around me.

Clinging to the partner comes from the desire NOT to cause the pain leaving her will cause and the fear of being alone after being lonely too long. But I also want to go because I see the pain/harm I cause and the desire to be alone much of the time. This links back to what was said in the post about the lack of balance.

I hope this gives some insight into the opposing mindset.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 5:33pm

To the people pointing out the distinction of clinically diagnosed narcissism, and how rare it actually is – yeah. It’s not especially useful or practical for every empath to run out and call all their ex-partners “narcissists”. The observations about the power dynamics and tendencies in these relationships do strike a cord with many of us though. Many of us need to hear what is actually being said about the nature of the codependent partnerships we form with people who lean towards having more narcissistic characteristics.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 3:21pm

I am an empathy, but not a typical one. I can feel anyone’s energy and walking into a room – even if it’s silent – is like walking into a beehive of activity from all the different emotions that I sponge up. I think I learned long ago, probably as a child, to shield the inner me from all of this energy. It’s really sad to spend a day with people and realize you haven’t felt one single emotion that was YOURS, all you felt was input from others. I help when I can and try to never hurt. I can’t fix them. I’m not supposed to. I am 12 years into a relationship with a huge narcissist. He was traumatized as a child and went on to spend 33 years in the military and retire out at a high rank. So you can imagine how that exacerbates his issues. I love him, but he stays at arms length emotionally (that’s were I keep him). I soaked in all of his excitement, passion, anger, hurt, endless drama. We almost divorced. I am his 5th wife. Then I decided to stick it out, but to keep him and his emotional vampire ways at a safe distance. We hang out together, but I have my own life. He still creates his little dramas, but they aren’t fun because I don’t get involved so they don’t last long. He loves me, as much as someone like him can love anyone and I love him as much as I can without handing over my emotional independence to him. Narcissist CAN be loved and are worthy of it, but you have to be honest about what they are and what you’re going to get back in the process. It’s worth it to me, but it’s not always easy (then again, life isn’t, is it?). Namaste everyone!

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 1:48pm

So I wanted to reply on this (enough I created an account), here's to hoping I might shed some light and not die off to oblivion but hey, who knows.

From your definition I am one of those empaths turned narcissist, I have both the empathic hero complex and the narcissistic manipulative and charismatic personalities. It took me years to overcome the narcissistic personality that brow beat my wife into submission. (Note: the empath->narcissist happened before I met my wife of 11years) So yes, they can change, but it is with great struggle. Which get's me on to this:

"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."

That actually irritated me, but I do understand where it's coming from. I would like to think most people acting that way tend to realize it's them but it's hard as hell to overcome. Personally, I try to take everything on myself and blame myself for everything and then just say "I will work that out". It tends to make things come to a quicker resolution and allow solving the problem instead of finding the blame to be there quicker. Which is more efficient. But we aren't really talking about one or two personality types here.

Anyways that's my two cents.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 11:45am

This has been my life for 14 years and it has gotten worse not better. I appreciate the insight and its the motivation I needed..

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:58am

I am an empath and I am married to a narcissist. We have had our rollercoasters but the one thing that I know is that he does not have these emotions on purpose. I study psychology because I need to understand peoples emotions better so I can distinguish between theirs and my own. Narcissisism is a personality trait, its a spectrum. Some may be higher on the narcissistic spectrum and can can struggle to break away from those tendencies but how the article describes them is that they can never change. Anyone can change things about themselves if they want to and they try to. I try to encourage my husband and I openly explain things to him. We have many open conversations about everything and we talk when things are bothering us. Communication is very important in any relationship. Simply saying you should stay away from them is hurtful and stereotypes them. Instead of avoiding people who struggle we should encourage communication and being open and honest. My husband is my best friend and at the end of the day he helps ground me because he is selfish. He reminds me to be more selfish for myself and break away from the emotional baggage I end up carrying around at the end of the day.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:47am

Hi everyone, this article helped me a lot, I’M A NARCISSIST, I just want to share my point of view of this situation: Being a narcisist has given me a lot of problems with all my beloved ones, I hurt them a lot, and the real problem is that a narcisist simply doesn’t notice it (I talk about me, I know there could be people who loves hurt another ones). It’s like the thing with cats, the cats can be the most beloving beings and like to hang with they guardians, but once the instinct arrives they hurt, not because they want to, but because their brain tells them that they must obtain whatever they need right now and doesn’t matter who or what is in their way, like when you feed them and they change and can start climbing you and hurts you with its nails, or when you play with them and they enter in the hunter mode, and suddenly you want to hug it, and it scratches you without warning, it’s something like that; we (hope I’m not the only case) see everyone and everything like we need to control them to obtain what we want, but we don’t understand that we hurt our beloved ones, simply our brain demand us to obtain what we want; yes, this is selfish and arrogant, but it’s part of this behavior.

I agree that a narcissist is very unlikely to change, BUT, I think if something happens really strong to the narcissist, he/she can realize the problem and then exist the possibility he/she wants really to change. I really doubt someone like us can change without professional help, and if the subject doesn’t go with professional help by him/herself, I doubt he can really change, perhaps I’m wrong, I hope I’m wrong; I was, maybe a part of me still thinks I am, someone who think people can’t change, but after my breakup to reality, I realize that I want to change, really want to; I started going with professional help and so far this is what I have realize of this situation.

The only thing I can say to everyone who is in this situation is: if you’re the empath one, the better thing may be moving on, BUT, please, please pay attention; if the narcissist experience something strong enough to make him realize he/she is wrong, please, observe him/her, if you really loves him/her and he/she really, really wants to change, think in wait and maybe give him/her a chance, BUT please don’t tell him/her; he/she really needs to work like he/she doesn’t have any hope, because he/she needs to start working in this problem for himself/herself because this problem exist because he/she doesn’t aprove him/herself. Also, work in yourself in the mean time; you need it, you deserve it. PLEASE, also understand the narcissist needs to do this for him/herself BUT you will be his/her motivation, everyone needs one motivation, feel happy because if he/she really wants to change is for him/herself and for you.

And if you’re the narcissist: please stop being so freaking selfish, you may not realize it but you’re hurting yourself, because you will lose everyone you love sooner or later; so please do yourself a favor and go to professional help, believe me, you need it, and don’t think you can help yourself alone, you may think you’re really strong, but believe me, you’re not, you can’t handle this alone, use this strenght you have and being honest with you and work with your treatment, because if you don’t do this, you will lose everyone you love all your life and most part will be your fault. PLEASE, use your way of controlling people to control yourself, you can, you know how you have being doing this all your life, this is the REAL challenge, LEARN TO CONTROL YOURSELF!!!

I really, really hope this could be read by someones struggling with this and helps them, I really wish the best for everyone.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 9:58am

Wow. Like a slam in the face. I have known for years I was an empath—and it can be so painful when you feel everything so fiercely! Married for 39 years to a Narcissist who really IS a “good guy” but does nothing whatsoever to “fill my cup”…he thinks b/c he works 40 hrs a week, his “job” is done. I do all the rest, plus work PT. He “forgets” my birthday and I feel sad? It’s MY fault because I’m too sensitive. Forgets Mother’s Day b/c I’m not his mother (we do have 5 children). Does what he wants, when he wants, no phone call to say he’s not coming home b/c he went to dinner with a friend….I could go on. He’s not horrible, but I am exhausted trying to figure him out. I have actually asked him for a separation so I can think–his reply “good luck finding a job that pays more than $10 an hour. you can’t support yourself”. I’m still reeling from reading this article, it’s coming with me to my therapy next week! (yes, he was terribly abused as a kid and has a low self esteem–)

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 9:16am

i am a narcissist. i already knew this, which is why i came to article in the first place. ****I am trying to better understand and help myself, so I can heal my marriage b/c I truly love my husband****. I just want to make it clear that we are not soul less monsters, nor are we incapable of self identification as narcissists or introspection in general. Yes, there is definitely a spectrum of narcissistic behavior, which is why you can not make blanket statements like some of the above. On the whole, I agree with the article. I struggle with empathy for sure. However, I derive no power or pleasure from causing pain, nor do I prey upon someone when they are down to make myself feel better. Instead, I experience tremendous amounts of GUILT once I remove myself from the situation and see my actions clearly for what they are. It is torturous. I also find the whole "the only answer is to get out NOW!" problematic. How about employ a counselor first to find out if your narcissist is beyond change. Some are. I am the child of a classic full blown narcissist of the personality disorder variety. Yes, it left me crippled, damaged, in constant pain, no self worth, total victim mentality, and mountains of guilt to boot! I am 35yrs old. I can not yet write off my ability to heal, and therefore change. Maybe some non narcissists out there can bring themselves to understand that. We are one way of expressing the experience of being a hurt, broken child. NO, you should not be our doormat or punching bag, but do not remove us from the realm of humanity with blanket assumptions of our lack of ability to love, see ourselves clearly, or change.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 8:59am

You described my failed marriage as completely as if you had been there. I thank goodness every day that I find a therapist who could see that this was happening and opened my eyes to it so that I could find the strength to leave. I still battle with whether to give him access to our children, for fear that he will manipulate them in the same ways. Thank you for writing this with such clarity. Hopefully it well help others who can see themselves struggling in these types of situations, too.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 8:49am

I really liked reading this piece. Having been divorced and in a marital relationship with someone else who was divorced I think I have both qualities – although there is a difference in how one perceives themselves and how others perceive them. It think that I have a lot of the narcissistic qualities but do believe I have some of the properties of wanting to “fix” the problems that my significant other possess. That is both good and bad. I have learned to try to avoid the tendency to want to be a fixer.

I disagree with the part about how a narcissist cannot change. Maybe it is not as common or even likely – but a willingness to change and steps taken to change can occur. The underlying tone is love. Because I love my spouse – I choose to want to be what she needs. I want to change if there is outdated or even destructive habits that I harbor within. I want to work past the hurts. I also want to work with her to get past the hurts she has of her own.

I feel that I have the traits of both. When confronted I do get defensive with my spouse but do not perceive any ego that needs to be stroked. I believe my wife has a 50/50 blend of these traits as well. Divorce did not come easy for either of us and having dealt (both of us) with feelings and problems/challenges as children resulted in us being dialed in the way we are today. It isn’t easy to get past years of hurt or problems. But I don’t believe that all hope is lost. The key difference between the human and animal is a free will – I can look at my environment and decide it is not for me. I can also look at my attitude and see if the shade of lens I am looking through is based in reality… We can change – within and without. We can run from perceived problems or we can confront them both internal and external. Our loved ones can help. It doesn’t have to be this ordeal that some possess.

Imagine for a minute if I believe you to hate me and to dislike me for whatever reason. With that belief in mind – anything said to me by you could be perceived as patronizing, hateful, attacking, or even derogatory. But if I examine myself and see how I perceive it and take my feelings to you – we can come to an understanding and see the truth. But people have to communicate. When communication fails, so will any relationship – good or bad. I’ve watched a vibrant relationship die – I did my fair share in killing it though. My fear is that I killed her spirit and self-image. We fought like cats and dogs from day one.

We must be self-aware. I had an open mind when reading the traits of the narcissist. There are some things I need to work on. I want to be the person my wife deserves and will not stop trying to get better. I’m not done growing into everything I can be and I like to think that I’m not as good as I will be tomorrow – yet am better than yesterday.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 8:00am

Im a empath hubby is a Narcissist it works for us by trial and error time were rough here and there but all in all it has made us both strong and equal partners! Believe it or not, dont be to hard on on one side of an issue!! Both have traits and issues and if they have awareness then it can be awesome!!! I could say so much more but really isnt all an individual growth and learning curve!!

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 7:27am

Well, I was married to a narccissist for 20 years. I felt when reading this that they were talking about our relationship. Just getting out now and wishing I hadn’t wasted all those years trying to get through. I hope I never hear the words “But I’m a nice guy” again. He is not guy. There should be a test for narciciccism and then they should all be pu on their own private island together.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 5:15am

Thank you for this 100% accurate article/Op ed piece. I lived this as an empath and Prince Not So Charming was the Narcissist . 5 yrs later he "confessed" his lies and pleaded for my help and to stay in his life. Once I said "Yes, I'll help you." (I know, I know.My mistake) in a matter of weeks he sent me a ranting ,screaming email throwing me out of his life. It was the BEST and only gift he'd ever given me. That was Nov 2014 and nothing since. He "claimed" he had to lie to make himself look like a "real man" to me and to have a personae. He suffered through horrific emotional abuse at the hands of his relatives while growing up. There is no excuse for his grotesque behavior towards me and other women he did this too. I reached a place in my life where I can forgive and move on. All we can do is forgive ourselves, forgive those that hurt us and try not to hurt anyone as we've been hurt. I remind myself every day "First do NO Harm." Thank you for this. I needed it so.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 12:23am

I just read your article on Empaths and Narcissists and my wife of 26 years lived this life until four years ago when she walked out and for six months stayed away from our home and taught this life long narcissist how to learn to live without the manipulation and torment that I put her through for the first 20 years of our marriage. I feel that I have tried reforming myself but it is a daily struggle to keep myself in check…I had a saying that I quickly learned was a form of manipulation and had to quit using because of the pain it was causing my wife…"I'll change so you don't have to". I realize that I must constantly and actively monitor myself at all times and sometimes I wish I could walk away from her so that I never slip back again and cause her more pain.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 12:09am

Take a look at the number of views this story got vs all the other stories. I saw this repeatedly on Melanie Tonia Evans blog too. When she wrote about a narcissists vs any other subject the views and responses rose at an unbelievable rate. What do these stats tell us?

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:53pm

I can’t believe how demonizing this article is. I am not diagnosed but I think I may be a narcissist and this has hurt. I do all those things but I try to stop it. I feel love and sadness. And this article has made me feel worthless. This article has told me I am good for nothing. That I will only hurt people. I have never been suicidal, but you’ve told me there is no hope.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:49pm

Not a narcissist, but well educated in narcissism and have struggled narcissistic issues. I wrote you on FB. I'd like to take a stab at "would love to read the view from the opposite side". I will not defend the narcissist, but give a more nuanced, balance view.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 7:50pm

Holy Mother! I rarely reply to articles, but you have summed it up so perfectly!! I am FINALLY walking away from this EXACT type of relationship… I am the Emapth… As a matter of fact, I was researching what might be wrong with him and Narcissim was my conclusion! Thank you! I must save this article so I can even more so constantly remind myself…

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:15pm

This was a great article. A narcissist thinks only of themselves and an empath thinks only of others, so with both people only paying attention to the narcissist, it all works great. Until the empath gets the life sucked out of them and has nothing left, friendships, self esteem or sanity. Were you watching me in every relationship I have ever had? That was so well said. A light bulb went on for me. THANK YOU!!!

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:38pm

I would like to thank the author and all those who responded. I feel I've just had a crash course in N/E dynamics. Phew! It has been an amazingly informative and enlightening process. I have gone from a place of utter confusion to one of awareness and am eagerly diving in to healing my side of this toxic pairing….and staying single until I've successfully become a happy solitary recovering Empath with Narcissistic tendencies who has excellent personal boundaries! I've grown in leaps and bounds the past 2-3 days.
Thank you!
One more thing to share in order to feel "complete".
At the end of our relationship I was very mean to my narcissist partner. I was very hurt by things she said to me. I became very angry, then I went into a rage – something that has occurred in my life very rarely but follows the same pattern each occurrence. In my rages my pattern is to be vicious, verbally and emotionally abusive and out of control in accusations and other statements, many of them outrageous and ones I don't even believe – I ashamedly admit my aim is to burt back. Also a characteristic of these rages is that I can't remember what I've said after.
This is also called "offending from the victim place" – Pia Mellody's words.
More than anything in the world I hate admitting I have often played the part of the victim. Understandable as I WAS the victim all of my early years up until my late 20s. THEN I learned about abuse, victims, dysfunction and started change and healing and growth.
I am no longer a victim but I can easily fall into that victim place again. I notice it very quickly now and work to take back my own power and become balanced again.
In case I didn't mention it before I've had years of therapy and reading, writing, research trying to become a better person.
Even more than I hate admitting I'm in a victim place when I am do I hate admitting I've been the abuser. It took a long time for this to make sense to me as my usual way is to be loving, giving, understanding. But when hurt I can become very angry and abusive – victim or abuser, usually victim, but abuser cause the most shame. I long for balance, healing, good boundaries and happiness.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:20pm

In response to Gary, who responded to Ilyse, thank you so much for contributing your thoughts from the point of view of the narcissist. I was in a relationship where I continued to give more and more, and my ex just continued to take, always expecting more, always blaming me, or the situation for his own unhappiness. I tried so hard. But it always felt like I was the only one trying. It was utterly exhausting. I gave until I had nothing left, for myself, for my art, for anyone. I felt hollow and empty. In the end, I felt like he was disgusted with me, with my weakness. He just got more and more angry. Finally, he did the unthinkable and got so angry he hit me in the face. I called the police and never saw him again. This is over a year ago now, and I am still struggling to deal with my feelings of pain, loss, disappointment and inadequacy. I didn't understand what was happening between us. It just always felt like I was trying so hard, and he not trying at all. Like he wanted to be angry. Like he wanted to be unhappy, no matter what I did to help or console him. It has only been through counseling and my own research that I now understand that I didn't have the boundaries, the 'backbone' as you say, to stick up for myself, to call him out. I keep wondering if I would have known then what I do now, if things would have been different. Could I have made him see what he was doing to me? Could I have stopped him from treating me like a doormat? I'll never know. and I'm never going back. But I don't think he wanted to change. I told him so often how he hurt me, how much I craved his love and affection. He would listen to me, but then nothing. I felt hopeless and lost in the acceptance that this is what the rest of my married life would be like. But I am so glad you shared your experience Gary. This makes me feel like all is not lost. It also validated to me that as long as I am strong and believe in myself, not sacrificing who I am to appease anyone else, that I can love and be loved again, even if the next man is not perfect. I just have to keep my backbone. Thank you so much for sharing.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:17pm

I was in a romantic relationship with a narcissist and it took me about a year to understand how to take control of my emotions back. The biggest problem is I identify myself as an empath, so right away I was pulled to him like a magnet because I could see the hurting he feels inside. But what happens in a romantic relationship (at least in my situation) the magnets quickly change pulls and attract away from one another. An empath feels energy and peace listening and giving advise to people who need/want it. A narcissist gets energy from “putting others down”, which if they are a true narcissist chances are they have no idea how harmful they can be to certain people. That’s where I believe a true and strong empath could be a good friend to a narcissist, stressing being STRONG! A narcissist will not have many close people in their lives because no one wants to be around someone who manipulates and puts them down. This is why I believe empaths could be good friends for them. The relationship was not working for us because I was beginning to feel a roller coaster of emotions from being depressed to feeling jealous which are both not and have never been traits of mine, so it was important for me to reflect and ask myself why I was feeling that way and it turned out to be the emotions I was picking up from him. That being said, I still very much care for him because he is still a human being. The best thing I decided I could do is remain friends and challenge him whenever he thinks he is right or if he is being degrading towards me or others, they do not see it or understand it so it’s very important to continue to point out their “faults” but let them know it’s coming from a loving place. I’m a very patient and understanding person so it’s easy to do this for a friend I don’t want to lose (you just cannot be around each other too long) this relationship we have now has been very rewarding for both of us because very slowly he is taking in my opinions and reflecting on them in his own time. He has even thanked me for my friendship and appreciates and wants to have some of my qualities he lacks. I’m not saying every friendship will be the same but it just takes time and a knowing that everything they do/say is not coming out of a place of hatred for you. The best we can all do is to not judge and categorize people so negatively. We need to learn to accept people for who they are and if you happen to not want anything to do with them anymore you need to explain why or else they will never want to seek self improvement. Narcissists are not bad horrid people, they are still people just trying to do the best they can given their circumstances.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:57pm

I am both an Empath by birth and a Narcissist from the age of 4. Both of these traits used to be much stronger, and when they were I found myself both finding and helping the wounded, and using their dependence on my help to fuel my feeling of self-worth. It pretty much cancelled anything positive for my friends out in the long run. I wanted to help them, but am now realizing that of course, they couldn’t fulfill *my* need if they were healthy. It has largely left me with a life I feel to lack any true advancement, physically and emotionally. I have all of these people who say they love me, but due to my charisma and surface empathy I don’t know if that is true. I’m only just learning what love really is.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 3:59pm

for years I though I became the narcissist. But I was just a chasing empath. Hm.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 3:41pm

Dear Alex. I love your work. Just yesterday I was reading your article about Lingus Massage and today this! I am also a survivor of a 21 year Narc relationship and by my accounts your interpretation is spot on. ( Loved the penis massage article though.)

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 12:13pm

How convenient for choosing not to publish a well written and thoughtful comment posted earlier this morning by myself. Refreshing to see the true nature of this site not only in the skill or lack thereof in regard to the author of this piece, but also in choosing to tune out any legitimate criticism aimed at this piece when solely written with regards to the audience’s well being in understanding such writing techniques. I had hoped to see constructive feedback into the opinions and facts expressed in that comment. Thanks for sheltering an author whose viewpoint is predominantly lacking in the skills an author with such credentials should be displaying. Yes, a paid professional editor is a much needed addition to your team. in la’kech ala k’in

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 1:55pm

    Michael we post all comments unless they are abusively spoken (like insulting/attacking the person instead of just stating your own differing perspective) or if youve added outside links, which flags the comment as potential Spam.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:56am

There’s a huge difference between just narcissism and someone who suffers from NPD. And although many empaths are codependent, not all are. But if you’re the empath in this equation, and you want to stay, you need to have your own stuff straightened out, because this is HARD. My experience was that the other person craved that intimate connection that he felt everyone else had, but he never could truly connect, despite that being what he most desperately needed and wanted. It was like as a tiny one somehow no one made that connection and it never got built for him. I can’t even imagine what that’s like to walk around with! I just wanted to fix it, to make it better. But no one can do that. And in the end the day to day behaviors involve such destructive head games that no one can pull in close for very long. He wasn’t trying to hurt people. He was doing it just by virtue of the only way he knows how to behave. So in my case we have a very cautious friendship. I’m one of several who he can call if it hits the fan but who can’t do day to day contact. I don’t see anyone as the victim. Our scars and needs just lined up. No easy answers here, folks.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:39am

I disagree, a Narcissist knows exactly what they are doing and live for their next Empath to play their head games on. I am a Empath,have been since birth. I am also a Pisces which makes me even more sencetive to everything around me. It took me years to learn this,I thought something was "wrong" with me. i came from an abusive home and as a child I thought everything was my fault. I know better now and can spot a narsissist a mile away,thats not to say I don't "fall" for their crap and still for a short while try to "fix" them !! But I find myself giving them enough fishing line to real them in so I can throw them back into their shark infested water. I am a fish,so I can out swim !! I take much less now,and when i reach the "I'm done" stage..I am done.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:41am

    I am replying as a guest.I follow your post.

    anonymous Jul 5, 2015 5:24pm

    Good for you, Mary! They try to feast on people who are giving, and I'm glad that you know yourself well enough now to be able to spot a Narc and not get caught up in their web.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:37am

This article is very accurate, but you are right that the author is not qualified. For a somewhat more qualified look at it, read Dr. Craig Malkin’s articles and books on Narcissism, including this one one change:

The key to note here is that most people have a degree of narcissism within them. Narcissism is actually a healthy thing to have in moderation. The worst narcissists are those with NPD, which is extreme. The worst empaths are highly sensitive people, which can also be unhealthy. This article is about those who tend to be higher on the narcissism scale without necessarily being a clinically diagnosed person with NPD.

But narcissists and empaths are actually two sides of the same coin. Empaths need self-validation too and need power too in so much as they seek it out by trying to “fix” others and their relationships. This is control. It is done through love, but it is control nonetheless. As soon as empaths learn to Let Go, they will begin to create healthy boundaries. Narcissists will be forced to either acknowledge their issues and address them by also letting go (this time of their insecurities and fear of taking responsibility) or alienate others from their life. Either way, it is their choice and you must allow them to make it or neither of you has a chance to grow.

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:05am

    You're awesome, Me! (love this double meaning, just have to say).

    After a looong mutually bruising relationship, I've come to a conclusion exactly like your post. There are two people in a relationship. Each person has needs unique to there personality and background. I'm choosing to leave my relationship because I need to "Let Go" without the influence of my partner's well-meaning "logic". It's been 25 years for us so I feel I have to get out just to see myself better. Neither one of us are evil. We just are who we are. If he wants to change, that's his journey. I've finally got to continue on mine and work on my "need to be needed".

    Thanks so much for your post.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:36am

I cant imagine being in a romantic relationship with a narcist, i had one with a former best friend, for 6 yrs 14-20 yrs my most crucial in growing years. if it was romantic it would be to this degree but its just a little less intense because she did not have that full control over me. I am an empath and now i have no tolerance for people like this, by my experience i did learn and i can sense an energy sucker a mile a away! in the end i am thankfull. I feel for you my other empaths and when you realize your self worth you will not want anything less!

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:20am

As a narcissist I admit I am happiest in positions of power, control and prestige. However I will argue that if you love someone you will sacrifice your happiness to some degree for them. My wife is the opposite of me and admittedly we balance each other. It is still important to realize that we are still not sociopaths we are quite capable of caring about other people and causes.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 10:49am

This is a very interesting article, I enjoyed it and even found some similarities to my own life.
I am a very empathetic person, I am codependent, but I also understand what I find as acceptable and not acceptable when dealing with my partner. My partner is a narcissist. But he is in no way an evil person. Mean, sometimes, emotionally abusive when times are tough, yes, BUT he has a good heart, he just cannot always control his lack of empathy or callousness. I do not find this behavior to be excused simply because he cannot control it, and he does not get away treating me as such. I work with him and talk with him about how this behavior is unacceptable and painful to me. He has shown remorse for his unloving behavior, and does try and get better at his communication with me. It will be a long battle, but I know it will be worth it. I have decided this for myself while knowing the kind of people we both are.
He has hope to change, where it may be slight, I believe its possible. Just like how I believe an empathetic person and a narcissist CAN truly be in love. To say a narcissist cannot actually truly be in love is very close minded and to say no beauty could come of that relationship I believe is inaccurate. My husband is a narcissist, and I know he loves me, he knows I am empathetic and that I shower him with love and he acknowledges that our relationship is imbalanced to a degree, but at times when he does notice, he to make it up to me. Not in an attempt to gain control over me again, an honest attempt at trying to put his own selfishness aside to show me he truly does care. I know his character flaws and I am not without them either, and I choose to love him through the good and the bad. Narcissists deserve love as well, they don’t all deserve to be abandoned. “Empaths” are not without great faults as well. As long as you understand the person you are and the person you are with, and are happy in life, that is all that matters.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 9:41am

I didn’t read anything past “would love to read the view from the opposite side if there are any narcissists that would like to offer their perception on this.”

Hello I am the opposite side. The unintentionally damaging side. The side that suffers mental health issues and classifications. There are no pages which “warn” you of the dangers of empaths. Narcissism is often linked to antisocial personality disorder (or ASPD) but you can be narcissistic without having ASPD and you can have ASPD without being a narcissist, the two are linked but independent. So let’s clear that up first. This article is about how “toxic” people with a mental health issue are. This is the equivalent of discussing how “toxic” anxiety, depression or autism is. On the surface autism can describe many of the symptoms of ASPD (especially Aspergers). The difference is, we don’t really give a shit. As I fall into the ASPD category I feel none of the sympathy or empathy which is needed for most relationships. Some narcissists DO feel sympathy or empathy but most DON’T.

I dated an empath and frankly, it damaged me too. But in a different way. I like to take the easiest road to get what I want. I weigh my life up in pros and cons not good and bad. A con which affects you but does not affect me has no weight to me. I am a selfish being with purely selfish motivations. If you are a being willing to give emotional support or responses or empathy/sympathy and that makes me feel good, I’ll take it. I will pay no mind to how it affects you. Why? I don’t know what guilt or remorse feels like. I am, as with many others who suffer with ASPD and narcissism, emotionally stunted. You would have better luck asking a toddler to cook a five course meal than to make me feel any form of sympathy for you. It’s not because I don’t CARE it’s because I CAN’T. This is why ASPD a long with a few other mental illnesses (borderline PD for example) are slapped with the “toxic” label so readily. This is why it is socially acceptable to shun anyone with ASPD, narcissism or BPD. We are damaging and we will move on from you.

While you feel some deep emotional connection, we don’t. I look at people as entertainment or companions. Some companions help me get further in my work, some listen to my angry rants, some make me feel good about myself, some have sex with me. Every human I have in my life has a use. I don’t keep people around for the sake of it, once we get bored we move on. We move on as you don’t leave anything on our psyche other than lessons in how to manipulate and leech better in the future.

I’d say sorry and apologise but that wouldn’t be sincere. All I can say is:

It’s how we are, who we are and you either live with it or you live scared.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:56pm

    Wow I applaud your straightforward and seeming complete honest style. This is also exactly how my former partner has described herself to me BUT I did not know then that she had NPD. Only after an excruciating end of the relationship and my following soul-searching and introspection looking for answers and understanding did I stumble upon the N/E relationship and easily fit each of us into it. Thank you.
    Oh, I'm curious, and wondering about this….but when I saw your spelling on anonymous my first thought was – "that is exactly the way a Narcissist might spell anonymous as a somewhat derisive self-secretive poke."

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 4:03pm

    As a narcissist can’t care, an empath can’t not care. It totally baffles me how someone can just use people and then throw them away when they no longer serve a purpose. I truly don’t understand it.

    anonymous Jul 1, 2015 10:16pm

    I too commend the honesty, as well as the self acceptance. As an empath, it has taken a long time to realize that not everything is my fault, or A fault at all. In fact it is still beyond my comprehension that there are others like ME- that I am not the oddball in a narcissistic world. I can't imagine a healthy happy relationship with another empath.. How bizarre that that could be possible!
    Oh well.. as in the meantime it seems I have again fallen for (ahem married) a narcissist. But damn it I want this to work out. I don't believe it is all so black and white, so doomed to failure. He is not to your level of BPD, or quite so extreme… Sorry I'm not sure how to express this, tho I suspect it is not easy to offend you..
    I truly wish i could use your honesty as a resource- if i could pick your brain a bit to better understand my own relationship. My husband does not identify himself as a narcissist so it is not as though we can dialog.. I cannot grow the thick skin he suggests, and he cannot shed an honest tear.. But maybe an objective third party could provide insight into his behavior and motivations. Perhaps i could even see it from that elusive other side, where the empath is the one unintentionally inflicting damage. I only wish I could wrap my head around the effect of my OWN behavior. .

    anonymous Jul 5, 2015 5:21pm

    Excuse me, but although there are many BP's that have Narc tendencies, BP IS a mental illness and there are meds that can help. A BP may treat you badly while manic, but once the mania is over, they can recognize their faults and feel regret for them. Narcs normally don't recognize any wrong-doings and have no level of regret. Narcissism is NOT a mental illness and there is absolutely NO cure. Although I may give you a kudo or two for your honesty, I hope you spend your life alone. You are a user, in every sense of the word. And, I'm sure that most people you catch in your web have no idea what kind of person they are associating with. You have an arrogant attitude, and the more we can educate people on what a Narc is and does, the less victims you'll have at your disposal. I got a kick out of your closing remark…"You either live with it, or live scared". Typical Narc attitude…intimidation.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 9:26am

I have never in my life posted a comment from an article I have read online, because it's just not my style. But, as an empath, who has had to work HARD to heal this dynamic in my own life, this article touched me very deeply. As you know it's an incredibly hard thing to understand, clarify, and heal. So thank you VERY much for taking the time to write this. Beautiful article.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 7:25am

Apologies if this has posted 3 times – I can't tell if it's posting!!!
In my experience it is co-dependents who get into a relationship with people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD.) Co-dependents are always empaths, because they were forced to be that way as children to survive. But there are many healthy empaths who would never stay in a narcissistic relationship because they have healthy boundaries. Co-dependents and narcissists are two sides of the same coin. I speak as someone who is co-dependent (but recovering) with an NPD mother and several previous NPD relationships. Co-dependents are also also carrying wounds, and we need to learn how to heal ourselves more than how to recognise a narcissist. They can be so charming and devious. But once we start to heal we no longer attract them in the same way. I found the book Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie and the work of Melanie Tonia Evans to be life changing. Good luck!

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:45pm

    There is also a body of work by Pia Mellody that deals with healing co-dependency. I've listened to many of her lectures and I believe she focuses on Co-dependency, Love Addiction, and Adult Children of Alcoholics.
    Back in the 80s I found her work and found it most enlightening and healing. (Relapse can happen in any recovery.)

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 7:22am

The author should also note she IS IN NO WAY QUALIFIED TO WRITE THIS and she uses a classically “undergraduate” assumption about the roles to defend hers, which could EASILY make HER the Narcissist and her former partner the Empath.

Stick to Yoga.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:41pm

    oh my! (registering despair). yes, stick to yoga! the focus on yoga is being completely whole, complete acceptance of what is – in the present moment – and acceptance of oneself. and as the spiritual practice that i've known yoga to be, it is an extremely loving and kind practice – now looking eagerly toward my next yoga class.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:47am

I'm an empath and have experienced this relationship. It ended 3 years ago but I am still affected by it.
What I want to know is, if a narcicist is a bad match for an empath, who is a good match?

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:37am

To “CWJ”, your comment is representative of the callousness of NPDs in that if the Empath (“victim”) doesn’t stop an NPD from hurting them, they deserve to be hurt – “it’s their own fault.” What makes the NPD so destructive is they seek out the Empath because they know their weakness is an NPDs wet dream. Takers (NPDs) don’t find Takers. They can smell each other a mile away. Takers find Givers by pretending to be Givers initially then once the Taker secures promises of love and support – BAM! The Taker discards the facade and the whole sad saga begins. The Giver was a Giver from the onset and will remain one until the Taker either completely sucks the life out of them or the Giver stands up, grows some boundaries and sends the Taker packing.

So to you, CWJ and all the other NPRs, the reason you get such a bad rap is because you are destructive and you leave a path of pain and hurt. You are smug, arrogant and self-serving as though you did the Giver/Empath a favor by abusing them like they asked for. You deserve the bad rap. If you provide any service to society it is teaching the Givers to not be Givers and to become Realists who set boundaries for all relationships and the term “unconditional love” goes back under a Mother’s love for her child, which is the only place “unconditional love” really exists.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:15pm

    Why do people keep on giving to someone who doesn't return the favor? This is why people take advantage of them. It's like they are dumb enough to think they can change someone. You cannot expect something in return for someone who simply doesn't care. Saying someone is getting a bad rap means nothing to someone who doesn't care. There are always more people to move on to. The only way to not be a victim is to stand up for yourself and set boundaries, like you said. If someone cannot do that it will be their own fault when they are used and it isn't that hard to find out who potential victims are.

      anonymous Jul 5, 2015 5:06pm

      You evidently don't truly understand a Narc. They start out treating you like you hung the moon. It's only after they get you that it all changes. They become abusive in many ways, and try to control every aspect of your life. If they can, they will get you to rely on them for all financial needs, emotional needs, cut you off from friends and family, if possible. But, they're conniving. They'll give you bits and pieces of love and affection to make you believe they truly love you, all the time trying to make you believe that you're the crazy one, not them. Their agenda is to break you down so all you have is them, and make you believe you're such a horrible person, no one else would ever want you and you're lucky you have them. They are devious and demeaning, and are known to be horribly unfaithful. They'll keep you around until they find someone else who will give them more attention, then drop you like a rock. But, they never leave quietly. They'll drag your name through the mud and do all they can to turn your friends and family against you. They will take you for everything and leave you with absolutely nothing, if possible. To get away from them, you need to develope a mindset that's a lot like theirs, and beat them at their own game, and do it without their knowing what you're doing. It's the only way you'll be able to escape their wrath.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:12am

Narcissism is extremely rare. youre putting a disease onto a selfish and hateful person. like they used to do with hyper kids and ADD. what you described, i am both. i want to fix peoples problems and do anything for friendship and people who take advantage of me and use me for what i can give them. i also need outside validation. maybe im just a woman.

excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance.
extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
self-centredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

this is the definition of narcissism. this is a very severe disorder. not being able to empathize is not one of the factors. that is a defining factor in sociopaths.

i know a woman who can NOT draw. at all. not one of her pictures looks even remotely good. but she brags about them, and shows them off and genuinely believes shes an artist. she ignores all constructive criticism, she compares herself to famous artists like she can do the same or better than they can. that, is narcissism. a grandiose view of one's own talents.

im on the fence about whether i like this article or not. everything rings true, but seems a bit extreme putting such extreme labels on people.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:37am

Narcissism is extremely rare. youre putting a disease onto a selfish and hateful person. like they used to do with hyper kids and ADD. what you described, i am both. i want to fix peoples problems and do anything for friendship and people who take advantage of me and use me for what i can give them. i also need outside validation. maybe im just a woman.

excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
self-centredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

this is the definition of narcissism. this is a very severe disorder. not being able to empathize is not one of the factors. that is a defining factor in sociopaths.

i know a woman who can NOT draw. at all. not one of her pictures looks even remotely good. but she brags about them, and shows them off and genuinely believes shes an artist. she ignores all constructive criticism, she compares herself to famous artists like she can do the same or better than they can. that, is narcissism. a grandiose view of one’s own talents.

im on the fence about whether i like this article or not. everything rings true, but seems a bit extreme putting such extreme labels on people.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:35pm

    Shannon, thank you for addressing the labeling issue. At first as I began to explore the Empath/Narcissist articles I fit so well into them that I thought I'd found a whole new understanding of myself. Then it seemed to me that there were just too many Narcissists appearing in public for I had the understanding that Narcissism was extremely serious and extremely rare. I wonder, I am curious, but as someone who has been in recovery from addiction and mental health issues for a long time I've been aware there are some people who seem to "collect labels" – partly because the actual symptomatology of mental health and addiction issues can be so overlapping, I think, and partly because of a strong and earnest desire to find answers and own up to ones own behavior so recovery can be successful – just my own interpretations here. As I've done my own research recently I, who had started thinking I had Narcissistic tendencies, discovered Borderline PD, and realized I fit that category better than the NPD category. This has left me once again with some derisive feelings about labels and the thought that if the treatment is helping that is more important than having the -or all of the – exact correct diagnoses – and confusion could reign should I get lost in the labels.

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:08am

I just read this and wow! My 25 year relationship to a tee! I'm the empath. But how do you get past all of the hurt and resentment? I sat back and watched him walk away with everything (including the little family (2 sisters and 3 nieces) I had left). People he never cared about, or liked, now he's their best friend!

anonymous Jun 29, 2015 3:16am

Is it just me or is the video at the top not really working. Interested, but can't see.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:32pm

"Empath" is the new term for co-dependent. The term "empath" may sound more mystical, but bottom line…we're codependents who have been raised to be in service to others. As a result, we often present with poor boundaries and underlying rage that fuels out relationships with those who have NPD. When an empath/codependent starts taking care of themselves and staying in their own business (not preoccupied with mirroring the NPD), the NPD will go elsewhere for their narcissistic supply.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:15pm

It is a great article.

Reminds me in essence of what’s going on in my life.

I went so much longer (wanted to keep it together until my son leaves the nest ) than my body and mind could handle. Had a colapse recently and trying to put myself together.

Feeling very unstable and looking for support as my partner (not leaving together for the last few months ), is ready for divorce. Yes, he lost control. Already to the next one.

I just also discovered about debtsholics (am I spelling this right? ). I wish I would heard about it long time ago, but finally understand other aspect of what was going on.

I was just recently reading the discription of debt alons (spelling? ), and it was unbelievable, like someone went inside my head ).. So I am looking to find groups around that issue.

I was so isolated for so long, that I am concerned about myself making it through. Lost most of my supported system and my blood family no longer alive.

My friend send me the article, so despite my totally shines, and not best English, am putting myself out to reach out. Just to break the habit of isolation.

Now I wonder how do I recover?

Anybody knows about support groups?

And I am trying to have a healthy compassion ,being in touch with a huge the loses, as well as getting phsically stronger (I almost died 10 years ago), have to be cerful to go forward without overdoing it (my very strong pattern ), I am feeling greatfull reading the above and knowing it’s not happening to me alone, and still so many are not aware of it, so feeling fortunate that I am no longer in dark.

What’s next?

Anyone hear about support groups or any other insights?

I would appriciate.


    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 7:46am

    Hi Lilia,
    I know how you feel… when I got out of a relationship with a narcissist, I was completely cut off. He made sure I had no friends. I do not know of any support groups, but therapy worked really well for me. Best of luck to you, and stay strong.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:23pm

    Lilia, I am new to understanding the dynamics between Empaths and Narcissists. However I am long in recovery from some of my deeply seated personal issues such as the need to take care of others, the terror of abandonment and the desperation to be loved that allows me to talk myself into accepting outrageous behavior towards myself because I am being told I am loved, and I choose to believe it. (And because some of the relationship is/was wonderful and met my deepest needs.)
    The way I've understood this dynamic before is in the addiction concept.
    Relationship Addiction, Love Addiction, or Co-dependency (as Empath)
    with the Alcoholic or Drug Addict, Avoidance Addict, Sex Addict, or Back-Walking-Away (Pia Mellody's word) – (as Narcissist).
    I know of no support groups using the words E/N, but I do know Al-Anon and Co-Dependents Anonymous and ACOA – Adult Children of Alcoholics have been extremely useful to me.
    I do think the healing principles of these programs will help me as I continue to try to understand the E/N relationship, and take a deeper look at myself in that context.
    Labels bother me, especially as so many things overlap, and as I have so many issues myself.
    I hope my referring to these other issues doesn't make it more confusing, but for me there is dramatic overlap.
    I am not interested in collecting diagnoses but I am very interested in healing and becoming whole – I won't say "again" because as a child of trauma and alcoholism I doubt I was ever whole in the first place.
    I wish you all the best in finding help for yourself, perhaps someone else will have some more specific and helpful answers for you.

      anonymous Jun 30, 2015 3:45pm

      Yoga was the best therapy for me!

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 10:43pm

Being an empath who is newly trying to establish boundaries this article moved me to tears. For so long I have felt so alone in dealing with this and I’m just starting to see there are others out there. Just feels like such a hopeless situation for me…..

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 10:30pm

You fully nailed this dynamic with every word. Excellent piece, thank you.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 10:20pm

I don't think I'm a narcissist because I don't have social needs like they do, but I seem to lack empathy and can share some insight.
Some empaths are seen as weak and stupid because they will continue to invest energy into someone who is only using them. The fact that some people think they can change others shows that they are deserving of whatever consequences they get because they are setting themselves up for it.
If you keep doing stuff for someone who does little to nothing in return it is your own fault when they screw you over because you should realize people will only continue their pattern of behavior and to someone without empathy, nobody is more deserving of being used than a willing victim.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 8:34am

    I am an empath and have been in a relationship with a narcissist for 15 years. When I she’d light on his personality disorder, his behavior has slowly, but steadily, changed. The trick for the Empath is to not get sucked in. I am not a victim and refuse to become one.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 9:18pm

I started this article because I thought you were going to go into how it is a mutually harmful relationship. I was disappointed.

First, I’d like to ask… Please stop demonizing people with NPD. Narcissists are humans who are dealing with a mental illness in the category of a personality disorder. Which means, there is no medicine yet. There is no corrective therapy. The best we can do is hope to learn how to be high functioning in society. Please stop acting like the inability to empathize makes us inhuman, evil, the cliche villain. The second a narcissist searches for self help options on Google, all they find is post about how a narcissist will never change and they can’t be helped and you should abandon them as soon as possible. How fair is that? Thats 99% of what we see every single time.

Secondly, to someone who is trying to learn how to function like a neurotypical, this empath you describe is possibly the worst person to be around. As much as an empath cannot stop giving even to the detriment of their well-being, a narcissist also cannot control their actions. An empath is like your drunk best friend offering you the worlds finest when you want to be on your way to a meeting. An empath feeds the narcissist the worst possible things to make themselves feel useful or wanted, and its just as addictive as any drug. Both people have a need to validate themselves because of such insecurity.

But somehow in all this toxicity, the narcissist becomes the devil and the empath the martyr.

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 11:04am

    Stefanie, although we may understand that NPD is a disorder etc, that knowledge does nothing to lessen the damage and devastation caused by a narcissist.

    My ex crippled me emotionally and financially – when I left him 2.5 years ago I literally had nothing. Seriously, I was on antidepressants and had £146 to my name, with 4-year old twins to look after. I was worthless and useless and a stupid idiot, just like he had told me for all those years. And people couldn't understand why I had left him, because he's such a lovely chap, and so very charming. They didn't see the mental and emotional abuse behind closed doors, they didn't know I was a prisoner in the house for 6 years, not allowed to go out or have friends. I was absorbed by looking after extremely premature and poorly twins, and didn't realise what he was doing 'till it was too late. By then I had nothing and no-one and nowhere to go. (He even tried to convince me I didn't know my children's birthday!).

    Now, 2.5 years later, I have built myself up again slowly, but I'm still too scared to let anyone close to me (and believe me, for an empath and a Cancerian, that is difficult in itself, as we love taking care of others). However, he still tries to control me. All the time. And he still tells me it's all my fault, and that I'm useless and have to take responsibility for my own pain – even though he tries to insult me and hurt me every chance he gets.

    Unfortunately I am bound to him forever because of the children. If it wasn't for that I would never even mention his name again! So go on about how the poor narcissists get victimised (that's a typical NPD trait btw), and choose not to see the path of destruction they leave in their wake.

    anonymous Jul 5, 2015 4:48pm

    Please don't have a "woe is me" attitude toward Narcs. They go into a relationship with an agenda, finding a person who is giving and loving to feed off of. Narcissism is NOT a mental illness. Most people with mental illnesses know they're sick. Narcs refuse to believe there is anything wrong with them. Why would they ever search for self help advice when they think that it's everyone else that's the problem? The Empath is obviously too loving for their own good, but they don't try to hurt anyone, unlike the Narc, who gets their power by making other's feel stupid and beneath them. If you have a relationship with an Empath, you are not going to come out of it destroyed. While, a Narc will tear you to shreds and take everything he can get, and still want more. You will need mental help yourself, to repair the damage that is done by the Narc. They are soul suckers.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 8:38pm

This hits home for me too, but something different happened with mine. I have been through 2 therapies that actually changed my situation, for me at least. One is somatic healing and the other was Life-Force treatment. We also tried didactic communication, and while it worked, it takes time and that’s a luxury. The best thing I could do was get out of my head and learn to deflect. I do not depend on this person for my well-being. We have fun together, share some lovely moments and also some tortured moments, but the therapies I’ve been through help me remain whole. I also practice yoga, meditation and do many independent activities. This is really the only way to remain in a relationship. You have to remember that they are all of the things you’ve mentioned above and it works for them well when it works and horrible for them when not working. Being close to a narcissist is difficult and one certainly needs a sense of humor, the ability to forgive, compassion and wholeness of self. If one gets wrapped up in the headspace of a narcissist, you will certainly have the outcomes you’ve outlined above. You cannot fix anyone, they will always blame others, think they are perfect, rage when not treated like gods for their “sacrifice”, and generally be upset at all of our stupidity. But they can be courageous, strong, determined and good providers for family despite their issues.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:44pm

I can't believe just how much this article hit home. I haven't even been married for a year (10 months). I am getting a divorce. I've been with my narcissist for almost 9 years. I am tired and I realize that my wife is never going to change. It takes two people to make a relationship work and grow. How can you communicate and grow with someone who is never wrong? I have been waiting and stagnant in this relationship for years. She doesn't think that people need intimacy (french kissing, cuddling, sex, etc.) in a romantic relationship. Before I married her she said she would change and things would be different. We even went to couples counseling and she said she would compromise. She has no idea what compromise is. In her mind I am the one with the problem. She projects all of her thinking onto me. She has no idea what empathy is.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 6:42pm

This hits way too close to home unfortunately

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 11:48am

    You article was interesting. As are the comments. However you said you wanted the other side. I am a narcissist, I believe I became such because my mother died when I was at a young age, my father continued to work. often gone before I got up for school and returning after I went to bed. It was during this time I started acted out alot. I was very charismatic, outgoing, and kind. but if I did something wrong. I deflected it to something or someone else always unable to accept the responsibility or emotional entanglement that was guilt. All because it hurt my ego, made me feel bad. I know all of this. because I have been dating an empath for about 4 years. And we got into a huge fight around the three year mark. she was so emotionally exhausted. I continued to hurt her but it was never my fault, so she resented me, I talked to all our friends about our problems while she respected the privacy of our relationship, she didn’t believe the world needed to know our problem, in doing so I manipulated our friends against her, totally unaware I was doing so. I was justified right, I’m the good guy so I’m the victim right? so she withdrew from me into her own world of hurt. I lied about things. Just because I wanted to avoid the guilt and shame of failure. so she began to mistrust me. One day during a fight. she brought all of this up. With so many events, proof, emotion. she was angry, hurt, and confused, instead of just “leaving, the toxic relationship” she put put the best effort to show me my own true colors. but not with the intention of hurting me, but because she wanted to know why…….she wanted to know why I would put her through what I did. that’s when I realized I was a narcissist. and this IS when I changed. It wasn’t over night, many times I relapsed into my old ways of lieing, blaming, and selfish acts. However, I loved her so much I wanted to change. not just for her, but for myself. I began to be conscious of her reactions to things I said, learned her emotions, what she needs from me in the relationship, I became more supportive and less self involved, we death with problems exclusively with each other. It took dedication, time, alot of self analyzation, accountability, and perseverance on her part. she never gave up on me, the whole time I was trying to change for the better. I am a still recovering narcissist, I’m an amazing relationship with an empath. Our relationship is damaged, I’ve made wounds that will be hard to forget for her. But I find as I struggle to fight my ego, we become closer together……In short I believe contrary to what you say. an narcissist needs an empath to begin to heal, but that empath needs a backbone.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:48pm

Omg this was my first marriage down to a t and I'm so glad I got out.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:13pm

Currently in a circle with my ex I believe is a narcissic I’ve tried to not contact him 8 times now but keep going back and falling into depression and the control and feel worthless to anyone else and lose all my confidence but at the same time crave his attention and how he makes me feel like the most beautiful girl on the planet its both toxic but eccelerating at the same time I think of is at a herion addiction im so extremely attracted to his charm and charisma and can’t excape so have almost gotten to the point of giving up and just doing as my told to please him but I know it will adventually make me feel so weak and lifeless I won’t want to be here anymore and that’s unhealthy so how do I leave again ? Because I know im that time of not contacting him he’ll make me feel worthless and nothing deservable for anyone else even my phycologist isn’t helping right now drugs maybe ? I just want to be me again I want to be free of this pain and misery so badly just want to be free :(:(:(

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 2:49am

    Anything he can do for you, you can do better, alone, whilst also keeping your sanity. Leave him to his same old petty affairs and go be a free lady. Love thyself. Go out exploring and let people in that also love themselves and show compassion for for their brothers and sisters. Treat yourself and take care of yourself first! I try to do that as often as I can. I am also a Jade, an empath, and have been in many a similar relationships to yourself. Maintain your life force energy, do some yoga, drink eater, breathe. Everything you need is right there

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 4:45pm

oh my gosh thank you so much for this article!!!! I especially loved the second to last paragraph! I wasted half my life on such a person and given he was a controlling and abusive male and I a quiet artist female, I was much astounded when I said "I am leaving" and got a disinterested uncaring response…but happy it was so easy to walk away. Thanks for the wise words, they were healing. 🙂

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 2:47pm

for the sake of healing and laughter, here is my musical contribution to the topic: “Everyone’s A Narcissist But Me”.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 9:55pm

    Perhaps I join you in a slightly offbeat sense of humor but I really liked your song! Made me laugh!

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 2:04pm

Can't agree with everything in the article. First of all – everyone is a narcissist, I say EVERYONE, in some degree and it's absolutely healthy. It's just ego thing and it's normal. The problem arises when someone is more narcissistic than "normal" (heh, and what is normal someone will ask? ) and if the article describes that kind of case – that's fine. However, in most cases people are the mix of different traits so not rarely does it happen that someone is an empath and narcissists at the same time – depending on situation.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 1:30pm

Wow does this sound familiar. I’m an empath, my last relationship was a narcissist himself. Literally any time I feel into a depression swing he managed to turn it on its head so that he was the one needing comforting. Or when I hit a serious low because of my car being broken into, and he was upset because I wouldn’t give him any attention.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:48pm

Thank you for this. As an empathic daughter of a severely damaged and narcissistic father, I found this dynamic to be particularly damaging to my sense of self worth. The more I consciously understand, the less I identify with that person he “taught” me to be. I realize it’s a different context, but resonates just the same. Thank you.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:47am

What concerns me, in both the article and the comments, is the assumption that people are one or the other. While that may be true in some cases, many people have characteristics of both. I'm absolutely a narcissist and am absolutely wounded, so I know I have a tendency to attach myself to people who can help ease my pain. But I also care deeply for my loved ones and when one of them is in pain I'll shut out my own needs to make them feel better. We all have the capacity for narcissism and empathy. It's being aware of those traits and our behavior and communicating them to each other that makes the difference.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:49pm

    Miri you have the awareness many people with NPD are unaware and they view everyone else as the problem.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:18am

All conditionned persons have some psychological imbalance. Why is the empath attracted by the narcissist ? this is a question the empath does not ask. The narcissist is not more damaged than the depressive or the hysterica or any other condition, So why do you choose the narcissist? It must reflect something about yourself that you do not want to see but hide behind the mask of being super sensitive and labelled empath,

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:13am

Read the book Attached by Amir Levine, Rachel S. F. Heller. They talk about the 3 different types of relationship personalities, secure, anxious, and avoidant. Similar to your theory but it gives reasons behind why people stay in unhealthy relationships and why some are so amazing and how to determine what type of relationship personality you and who you are best suited for dating. They explain and detail things to look for once you understand people's personalities. It makes the world a much simplier place when developing new friendships, business relationships and dating. You can match yourself to people that are good for you and identify what might not be such a good match.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 9:51am

Great, insightful anecdote. Could use some commas.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 9:23am

This is the kind of thing one cannot truly understand until it is experienced to their depths. It has nothing to do with psychology, religion, philosophies, or whatever. It is about a profound lack of empathy and presence at a soul level. There are people who do not have much light if any at all and go about their days seeking it from anyone who will give. Do not kid yourself with distractions such as reasoning, explaining, religion …….these people do exist.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 9:00am

Narcissists do not change…….this is proven over and over in many studies. My Mom and ex husband despite all the damage they have caused……do not think there is anything to change……they are just fine with it all……..and they know the destruction they have caused. As a very young child Mom knew I was different and told me so. She had no problem laying her ills on me and expected me to carry them. I was trained to go through life doing this and chose a husband who would have the same expectations from me as did my Mom. It is through healing therapies and education that I been able to change this pattern of excessive caretaking and therefore change who I allow to come to me in my life. I expect myself to love still but what is now changed is I expect others to love and treat me very well. I no longer engage in one sided relationships. I choose now to find a silver lining in this super ugly cloud that has covered me for most of my life. I choose to use this experience to bring hope and healing to others who are or have been through this experience. To say we all have a bit of both in us is not true for me and is an indication that that person has not experienced narcissists who are full on in their disorder. This dynamic operates on a spectrum and my experience was with narcissists who are as far to the right of the spectrum as I was to the left. I am healing to the center and now am attracted to others who function there too. Life on the far ends of the spectrum is where the extreme ugliness and destruction happens. Education on narcissism and codependency and how these manifest is key to beginning recovery. Please note that narcissism is considered a personality disorder while codependency is not. The reason being is that codependents are very capable of empathy while narcissists simply are not. This is the number one reason to go No Contact with this extreme disorder. There is also a huge difference in between someone who has narc tendencies and someone who is a narcissist. The one with tendencies can find empathy for others whereas narcs and socios are not capable. The bottom line is empaths and codependents can heal and go on live lovely full lives.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 8:40am

Oh. My. God. This. Exactly this. This explains so much. I went through two 5 year relationships with narcissists… one that was verbally and emotionally abusive, and one that craved dominance. By the end of the second relationship, I was no longer the caring, giving, emotionally supportive person who always put others first no matter the cost. I had become rather self centered myself, and I hated it. I knew it was a defense mechanism I'd adopted in my last relationship but I never understood why. 5 years, an amazing marriage and a new baby later, I'm finally starting to get back to my old self.

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:38am

    You could be telling my story here! After 2.5 years away from him, I am slowly beginning to realise again who I really am, and slowly letting others in again.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 8:13am

My daughter is a narcissist and I am an empath. I have finally come to the point where I realize that she has been abusing me for a very long time.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:51am

Labels, labels, labels….I’m this, you’re that. Every year we cling on to some new label for our egotistical selves, now we all are “empaths”….The people who write about this usually make a living perpetuating this drivel. In actuality, I find this sort of solidifying the ego less than empathetic nor is it generosity. The action of actual empathy is one of the more loving actions we can take but I find this trivializing of it…as these recent articles do…destroys it. Furthermore, I will venture to say that this indiscriminate ripping off of Buddhist thought and then “making it our own” is unfortunate because in the dark of making our business plans of spirituality this is what is happening. Yet, it must also be said that this indiscriminate rip off of buddhism for personal gain in no way ever approaches the authentic meaning.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 8:20am

    I've been thinking about the same thing–want to submit a piece about it for review? Submit to if so. Cheers! – Renee P. (Ed)

      anonymous Jun 28, 2015 10:30am

      Renee, That would be an interesting article to write and I am assuming you are talking about the taking of Buddhist thought and repackaging it to "make it your own". So much trending these days, trending, which has been taken from Buddhism without engaging buddhism in a formal manner. I understand that Buddhism is not for everyone but every year something else from Buddhism trends. Yet, what trends, i.e. empathy, love, compassion, impermanence, all are used in order to solidify ego, to label themselves or use as some kind of tool for their spiritual business plan. Now we have entered into another phase of the great New Age rip off of using traditional disciplines without the inherent wisdom.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:27am

    Padma, sometimes the first step to understanding ourselves better is by identifying with a 'label.' Once we recognise ourselves in a piece of text we can then start about the work of addressing our traits and working on ourselves. Yes, I agree, I am not a huge fan of labels either, however, labels are essentially a part of life while we are all at the stage of opening up, understanding ourselves and understanding one another better. Communication and relationships can be an extremely difficult part of life until we all unravel ourselves and dig into the who and why we are as we are.. I know it's great to think that we can drop all these labels, however, it is nothing to do with solidifying the ego, it is more about breaking down who we are so we can learn about ourselves and others. Not everyone is born and brought up in a way that they fully understand themselves – I certainly wasn't and it has taken me many years to unlearn everything I once thought to be true. As I have identified with personality types both for myself and those around me it has helped me to uncover more of my true authentic self and given me a great understanding of others too. Also, I don't think we should be so precious and guarded about Buddhist thoughts so to call it 'indiscriminate ripping off.' I think how you speak is quite inclusive of the small percentage of people that have had wide access to these beliefs or who have stumbled across them many years ago. In the western world not many people are brought up with these philosophies and so, sometimes it takes breaking them down, rewording or putting it into our own context to be able to get the word out and deliver them on a platform to others. Sometimes I think people can be purist over spiritual philosophies when really we should all be willing to share knowledge, understanding and not feel that there is only one way, the Buddhist original thought, and we cannot make our own interpretations of that thinking and put it to others as our own… It is not always about personal gain. I do not write as a job, I write for a hobby and so do thousands of others who write about these philosophies and practices. It is subjective to say what the authentic meaning of anything is as anything that is our truth is authentic in that moment, regardless of who held the original belief. Our translation of it becomes our authentic truth and holds it's own meaning.Padma

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:29am

I think this inaccurately characterizes the narcissist as malevolent and predatory and the empath as innocent and altruistic. I understand this is only an opinion and not a psychological publication meant for educational purposes but the author sounds angry and confused rather than empathetic.

The author purports herself to be the bearer of the heavy burden of empathy whose agenda is to love, heal, and care. The marauding narcissist only seeks control and to rise above others. This seems in odd contrast to what is necessary to classification of narcissistic personality disorder and the author's own observation that the narcissist is wounded. Behind the false front the narcissist is hurt.

The author claims the narcissist is only seeking to suck the energy from others to use to their advantage. While the empath "will always put themselves into other people’s shoes and experience the feelings, thoughts and emotions of others".

Were this true and the author an empath, a cursory examination of the narcissist would reveal their pain and, as is the case with every hurting creature, their desire for the pain to end.

Do individuals with NPD have a flawed approach to healing themselves? Absolutely. But no more so than a person who sees themselves as the benevolent victim of an evil personality type while claiming to understand and love all.

For a "Teacher of Tibetan Meditation", "someone who is trying to live in line with Buddhist principles", and an "Empath" the author is astonishingly locked into concepts and destructively short-sighted when it comes to her fellow human beings.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:35am

    I am in total agreement. I define myself as a narcissist, though, interestingly enough, many of my acquaintances identify me as an empath. It basically comes down to how we are at the time someone experiences us and what is going on. When I am hurt, I am mean, when someone else is hurting, I am kind. That does not necessarily mean I "know or feel" what you are feeling, it just means I am hurting for your hurt. Does that make me an empath? Maybe, if you say so…
    However, when I am hurt, I have absolutely no understanding that anyone, anywhere, on the face of this planet could even have a speckle of understanding as to how I feel…"you" (the person saying "I feel you") has no clue what I feel or what brought me here or what I have experienced before, so I display narcissistic behavior.
    I don't know for certain as I have never done any sort of study to confirm, but in my personal and professional experiences, I believe all human beings have a little of each narcissism and empathy. It all comes down to how you use it…I would furthermore suggest, very few, if any human beings, actually are aware of their choice to "use it" when they are hurting…It is reflexive. It is what we do when we are experiencing any emotion…Emotion is NOT logical. You don't think your emotions, they just occur and most often, we, as a fallen people react, not respond. I wish you all well…narcissist or empath, doesn't matter to me…when I am lucent…I am kind and loving, and that's what I strive to be!

    anonymous Jul 7, 2015 10:34am

    Yeah, behind the front, the narcissist is hurt. This is the statement that has basically caused my own ruin. The knowledge that deep down, he's been hurt. He's been abandoned. I look into his face and see the sweet little boy whose mother discarded him, who never met his father, who feels worthless, thinks his penis is small, got cancer in his teens… all of this fills me with a need to never leave him abandoned with his loneliness, with his romanticized desire to drink himself to death. I want to see him smile and make him love himself. And then he tells me that his only problem is me. That nobody likes me. That he will never change and doesn't want to.

    So yeah, I do feel innocent–at least compared to a person who acts this way toward me, when all I've done for 13 years is try to make him happy, all while being told I'm a piece of shit.

    And then poof! There he is, acting rational. Being sweet. Making sure I have what I need. Telling me he loves my art, and how funny and beautiful I am. Tickling my feet and scratching my back. Snuggling with the dog. And it all feels so wonderful. For a week or two.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:14am

Sometimes this relationship is between a parent and child, can't walk away from that one. Someone I love dearly has that relationship with her daughter and it's draining the life out of her and the rest of the family. She spends all her time keeping her daughter from falling over the edge.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:08am

I think that we all are more complex and changeable than to label one person an empath and one a narcissist. I have been with someone for 14 years and these dynamics switch around sometimes. It just seems a bit black and white, good vs. evil to call one person one or other other. People who tend toward some spectrum of narcissist, maybe wounded, but can be very capable of deeply loving. One of my Buddhist teachers, Tsoknyi Rinpoche says, "most westerners have some form of wounded love, and many of us through trauma, have lost our basic warmth." Narcissism and lack of empathy is our rampant cultural style, it's hard to find someones who's not. I think that even within our wounds and how they pattern themselves, we can work with each other with dialouge and care. I prefer not to look at an entire person in a black and white way, seems a bit limiting and inaccurate, no? ♥

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 7:05am

Very interesting reading. I was taken in by a guy I now believe to be a pure narcissist, and continued to remain in the long distance relationship, until I found out I had been scammed and cheated on. The next victim actually went on to marry this person, because he was able to convince her to turn everything back to me, insisting that I was the wrong doer from the start. Very persuasive people and very dangerous.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:50am

Thank you for sharing your story. I read a great book about this called The Human Magnate Syndrome. >>>…. In it the writer describes a a continuum where both the narcissist and the empath fall on a scale and attract people on the same level of the scale. So if you're a level 4 empath you're likely to be attracted to a level 4 narcissist (level 5 being the worst and 0 being balanced). He then describes the behaviors of each level and how you can move up and down the scale. I found this a really useful and could see, as an empath, that i needed to get to a level 1 or 2 empath to be able to attract decent people into my life. When we go into victim mode it's easy to blame the narcissist for our terrible lives but this helped me to take responsibility. And in fact, when i changed so did my partner and he began to match my new level 2 actions – i.e. when I started looking after myself and not taking any more shit. I like this scale because it doesn't judge and it doesn't say that either are a bad position to be in – for example a narcissist at level 1 or 2 can use their self-centred view for having focus and reaching goals, while still having empathy and care for another person. It was a really great book, you should check it out!

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:49am

“They are not consciously aware of their behaviour and the damage it causes.” Perhaps revisit your understanding of NPD. Even in a court of law NPD often cannot be used as a criminal defense because they know what they are doing and do so intentionally.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:45pm

    I found Ms Myles statement you quote to be factual. True intentional motive can be expressed by the offender, but this only happens when they face the truth of their behavior. What is in their "conscious" may and may not be openly realized. In my experience they only see the after effects, and blame the cause/s on anything and everything external that they obsessively seek out and find. To accept their truth is to kill or maim their own ego, or to them it is more self cannibalism which rarely happens even in the most intelligent of narcissists.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 2:46am

That bit where we all think that we must be the empath… thats called optimism bias I believe.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 2:28am

Empaths are usually healers and quite often in denial. I am one and was/is in relationship with a narcissist personality type for the last 20yrs. However, having done some relationship training, I have also come to be aware that empaths are usually emeshed. Which means whilst the narcissist is "needy" the empath "needs to be needed". THAT is why they attract each other. Most empaths are totally in denial of their own neediness and project most negative feelings (esp. body felt feelings) onto "the other", be that partner, client or friends. It is important to realise that if you are feeling reactivity in your bodymind that it is reflecting an aspect of you somewhere, and you need to bring nourishment to it yourself instead of looking for more victims to take care of, to feel better and project on to. I feel this article misses the point that unless you are Jesus, you probably do have abandonment issues, otherwise you wouldn't be in relationship with desperado's, who too can see their own patterns and choose to change (like my partner.) Peace out! x

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 2:23am

In the novel " The Mill on the Floss" the protagonist's brother saysof her that " She has a sympathy for deformed things", but that was because Maggie Tulliver, had feelings for a man with a pyshical disability. However, I relate to her and call it the "Maggie Tulliver syndrome" as I tend to develop feelngs for men with issues in their lives and true, I take on the role of the healer, I sometimes regeret it, but not always, as it is what I do, I love taking care of others, I love to give others acceptance and a pat on the back. Anyway, I've been stuck in this relationship for 3 years now, originally 9, started off as a friendship then developed over the past 3 years to try and make more out of it… so far it's been catastrophic, but I can't seem to turn my back on it owing to the wonderful 6 years of amazing friendship and pure love and energy exacheged during that time. I have this thing were I am perfectly capable of projecting any literary piece, including this article, onto myself, some think it's stupid and narcissistic. After reading this article, I now realise that I am an empath and that my friend/bf is a narcissist, funny enough though, I know for a fact that if I send him this article he'll say "Oh yes, totally, YOU do have traits of a narcissist but I love you and I empathise" … HA!!!!!! He is a master at turning tables, one of the things that drive me mad about this relationship. Over the past year I have really wised up to myself and realised this is never going to work, because it's not good for me, yet I keep having these moments of weakness where I just go back and talk to him, because I miss him too much, he's been such a big part of my life that not having him around feels very awkward. It reached to a point where I am refusing to forgive him for all that he's done that's wronged me. I keep in touch with him only to keep telling him how much I'm angry at him and that I'll never forgive him. It's pathetic. Sometimes he does admit that he has taken the weight of his emotional baggage of previous relationships on me, but then it's frequently reccurrent! I wish I could find the courage to finally close this door and move on …

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:52pm

    move on, I am trying to as we speak, hard as hell but we have to stand up for ourselves mine is both narcissist, and bipolar! toxic as hell

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 1:38am

I had a friendship, and eventual business partner that was a narcissist. I am an empath, and ended up losing lots of money and time with this personal and business relationship. Even on the business level, the empath will always pay the price, whether with their heart, time, or wallet.

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:14am

I was in this exact position for almost seventeen years. For a long time I was unaware of being an empath and highly sensitive, so I didn't understand. I was just different to my mind. But wow…now that I've learned, I'm still undoing the damage. Thank you this article is fascinating. 🙂

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 11:54pm

You did a very good job at explaining the general dynamic of the relationship, and the characteristics of narcissists and empaths.

But, how about some suggestions on how to identify these ahead of time? Or what to do if you find yourself in one? Or maybe even how to develop yourself as a narcissist or empath so that you can become someone who will attract the right partner?

I ask this because there are countless articles out there that address this phenomenon, which is clearly a prominent one these days, but very few offer advice on what to do about it.

I also think you’re being a little too critical of the narcissist. Both players are just as much responsible in a relationship like this, and both have the same capacity to change … despite your remark about the unlikeliness of that being the case for a narcissist.

I recently was in a relationship like this, as the narcissist, and I learned a lot. My heart is much wider open now, I am aware of my narcissistic traits, and I am integrating the lesson … growing into a more empathic, balanced, being.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 12:52pm

    If you recognized your part, then you are worlds ahead of my ex. He has moved on to a new one before he even asked for a divorce. Because she gave him more attention. He has to be the shining spotlight at work. But at home he was a whole different person.

    He like most will never realize their role. They continue to blame the other person. He has played the victim so well. he has blamed me for his job firing him 12 years ago and us losing our home. He told her I did it deliberately. He also told her that when me and my kids were in a car wreck that I never told him about it. That they hospital called him and told him to rush because our middle child may not make it for him to say goodbye. Her life was never in danger. They didn't take her back to surgery for over 2 hours. I did call him and he was there in plenty of time. He has to be the victim. He has to have the sympathy. he told her all of this because I called her and told her he was married. We were married for 22 years. He met her one month ago and they are talking about moving in together.

    anonymous Jul 2, 2015 7:04am

    Good for you Kyle! I too found, that I am unfortunately more on the narcissist side of my relationship. I too have been able to change many many things about myself and to (our) defense, we didn`t choose to be wounded! Did we? I think in answer to your request about "advice on how to develop yourself so as to find an appropriate partner"….well, I tend to think that LOVING your partner is the most important thing in any relationship regardless of who you find yourself with. Yes, but What does that mean concretely…I have found that traits of love include: 1)Trying to imagine being in your partners "shoes" when you feel hurt by them. Looking at things from a different perspective can be really healing! 2) Trying to be as helpful as possible to your partner, (even if that means leaving them alone for awhile) 3) Giving your partner the freedom to be and do as he/she pleases without a guilt trip when it isn`t what you would have wanted 4) If your partner does not meet all of your needs, (which is anyway comepletely unrealistic!), look elsewhere for your needs to be fulfilled, (either by fulfilling yourself or finding a friend) 5) If you screw up and do something which is really horrible, (like cheat on them), don`t fool yourself into believeing that you are doing them any good by telling them all about it. Hold onto your guilt on your own and learn from it, trying to forgive yourself and do better. Passing the hurtful truth onto your partners shoulders is a cop out. (in my opinion). Be generous and considerate and if they are frustrated, give them sympathy, don`t take things personnaly. I have been married for 28 years and I feel that these things have helped me to live and learn in peace and harmony. Mostly try to realize that YOUR happiness is up to YOU. And your partners happiness is up to him or her. Being supportive, empathetic, compassionate and kind is the only thing you can do to help.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 11:14pm

I think it's important to ask what our part in this attraction is. Since I believe what we see strongly in others can also be a reflection of an aspect of ourselves. If we are constantly attracting narcissists we may ourselves have some of the same traits that need to be looked at and healed in order to break the cycle.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 10:01pm

I am old enough to know that I have some narcissistic traits and some empathic ones. However, what you describe in you article sounds more like the relationship between a hopeless co-dependent and someone with borderline personality disorder.

    anonymous Jul 17, 2015 1:00pm

    Amen to that!

    anonymous Nov 10, 2015 9:38pm

    I agree with this to some degree. But I think borderline people often have narcissistic qualities, and empaths with poor boundaries easily become codependent.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 9:30pm

Narcissists are mean in my experience. Also there are key pieces missing such as trauma bonding. The abuser bonds its prey to them by gaslighting them. There is an feel of victim blaming in this article too.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 8:52pm

I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you describe it. This relationship circle very accurately describes my marriage, which I finally had to leave. BUT I also came to terms with the fact that he might have been narcissistic, but he wasn’t manipulative or controlling on purpose. It wasn’t his intent to grind me into the ground. He was being himself and I ground myself down. I allowed his remarks-where he thought he was being honest-to become insults. I allowed his questions-that he thought were reasonable-to control me. I changed myself to please him, when he really wanted the same woman he had fallen in love with, not the puddle of a person I had turned into.

I made as many mistakes as he did. I had to accept that he did not do this to me, I did this to me. He is now happily married to another narcissist. They are soooo obnoxious and rude and love each other deeply and neither allows the other to put them down, they both fight back and are happy that way. I meanwhile love someone who loves me and while challenging is not domineering. I have also learned to be myself and stay myself no matter what he requests of me unless I make the choice to sacrifice for him and then I accept my choices and my compromises as mine.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 8:35pm

This article is, of course, completely one sided and superficial. "Narcissist" is not so much an objective diagnosis, as a calculated insult. "Empath" is not so much a diagnosis, as a form of self congratulations. To get away from the pejorative label of " narcissist", let's call the two types "subjectives" and "objectives." Objectives judge themselves and others based on objective criteria, which can be discussed objectively. Subjectives judge themselves and others (and they are every bit as judgemental as objectives) based on subjective criteria that cannot be discussed objectively. When someone does not agree with the Subjective's perception of reality, the Subjective calls that person a liar. Subjectives can be superficially seductive by initially expressing approval of the Objective even when the Objective is not accomplishing anything. After seducing the Objective, the Subjective gradually makes approval contingent on the Objective accepting unquestioningly everything that the Subjective "knows" is true based on psychic powers or something else that cannot be disagreed with. The Subjective does not feel any particular need to actually accomplish anything because they are just so loving and empathic. Subjectives suck the energy out of Objectives by taking advantage of what the Objectives produce, but discounting the value of it. Both Subjectives and Objectives are deeply wounded deep inside, but each expresses it in his or her own particular way.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 3:50am

    Actually this article is saying that empaths are the problem in this situation.

    anonymous Jul 15, 2015 2:38pm

    Jrhillard has no idea what he is talking about.

    anonymous Sep 14, 2015 1:14am

    No actually this guy is really smart, and is describing the other type of scenario these couples can create. One with an emotionally manipulative and abusive "empath" – which is really just a word people are using for an 'intuitive/feeling' person as opposed to a 'perceiving/thinking' person on a Myers Briggs scale.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 8:35pm

Wow! This is fascinating. Some thoughts?

Like others are saying, I think there's too much moralizing going on here – as in, you're attributing some characteristics and behaviours as morally 'good' or 'bad' when they don't actually NEED to be so. That is, I think, how this ended up looking so polarized, with empaths being the softhearted good guys and narcissists being the Voldemorts of the world. (This is one among many, many reasons why I prefer to describe myself as empathic, not "an empath".)

Some nuancing for the above scenario – I am in a consenting D/s power exchange relationship with a narcissist. I'm empathetic. When the power etc you describe above is above board, when you both KNOW it is happening, and watch it happen, and monitor it, I think that you can develop a healthy relationship. Being narcissistic does not make someone unworthy of love, and empathetic people are uniquely suited to giving narcissistic people the energy they need.

In my circumstance? My partner knows what he is, and what he needs, and what the cost could be to me, potentially. And he nurtures me, and keeps me and my energy levels safe. If you want to be kind of negative about it, it's only logical to foster the health of the person giving you all you described above – so that they can continue to give to him/her. But people who are narcissistic aren't incapable of loving, and self-aware narcissists can (I think) mitigate the negative behaviour you describe above, same as people fight weaknesses of all kinds.

Tl;dr: Sometimes people aren't tricked into this, and the end can be quite different when both of you are in it with your eyes wide open. (…I hope.)

Thank you for writing this, it put so much of what I've experienced into words!

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:22pm

    narcissists are not <always> nurturing I am sad to say. you were lucky. also, there are varying degrees of both types.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:28pm

    I believe there is an enormous spectrum as to the levels of anti-socia behaviour (narcs / sociopaths / borderlines). So perhaps you're partner is on the higher end of the scale.

    In my one-off experience, and speaking to a host of others who have been with this with a narcissist, after the 'love-bomb' phase and during the devalue/discard stage, they couldn't give a rat's arse about your health or well-being…it takes away the attention from them – unless they can garner something from it.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 9:03pm

    thank you so so so much 🙂

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 1:32pm

    Thank you for your comment. I was thinking, as I was reading the article, that, while it is eye-opening to see this relationship type laid out, it seems unfair to imply that a narcissist will never be able to find happiness or be loved. Nor is it fair to say that an empath will become victimized, need to realize the damage of their relationship, and walk away. I, too, identify with the empathetic personality type, and my husband is of the narcissistic personality type. My husband is, at times, very affectionate, but he is also very hurtful, insensitive, and manipulative. It definitely has caused a lot of strife and pain in our marriage; however, that does not mean our relationship has been toxic or that I am so damaged that I will become a victim. I have a choice of whether or not I will allow him to cause me pain. I have a choice of whether or not I will allow myself to become depleted. I can choose to continue to love him, despite the pain he has caused. In addition, I have seen him grow so much in the past 6 years. I have seen his heart open little by little towards me and our children. While there are times I feel hopeless, and I worry he will never be able to love us fully, I am encouraged by the growth I have seen in him. It may take a lifetime for his heart to open fully, but I don't have to become a victim while I pour out love on him. I choose to find love in his attempts to please me, even if they lack genuineness at times. I choose to find fulfillment in loving him, rather than being drained by it. I choose to find joy in my children. I choose to have other relationships that aren't as draining, wonderful friendships that are mutually uplifting. I believe there is hope for functional emapth/narcissist relationships.

      anonymous Jun 29, 2015 4:56pm

      what a great response! Choice is always at the heart of any relationship, regardless of how seemingly dysfunctional. Each moment of the day, we are choosing. You seem to be wise and compassionate – the people in your life are lucky to have you 🙂

      anonymous Jul 1, 2015 6:00am

      You are awesome! You are correct in that you CHOOSE what you will allow (as often as possible). I was in a toxic relationship for decades. I chose to send my energy to build a business and fulfillment for it and my associations. In time we divorced (and his wickedness exploded!) and now I'm in another relationship (silly me) that seems similar but I am choosing my path again. It's a lot of extra work and I admire you for sticking it out. The saddest part for me is that my twins have to bear the brunt of my narcissist Ex, and that is so sad. I feel great guilt in that because, for us, he is mean, passive aggressive, and depressed. My children never should be put through that kind of behavior, even if I was perfect in supporting them in every way. For us, there is fallout; even when they know that he is mentally ill (narcissist).

    anonymous Jul 13, 2015 11:00pm

    This is all well and good until you are sick, or sad, or unemployed, or overweight, or just want someone (anyone!) to really see you, talk with you, LOVE you. Then the narcissist you love with "eyes wide open" will walk right out the door. You are no longer useful to him.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 8:03pm

Thank you. Although I didn’t want this to describe the relationship I am in, the more I read, the more I saw the truth. Time for change

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 6:58pm

This is a well thought-out and eloquent piece you wrote. I am ashamed to say it, but by reading this and the hyperlinks you provided, I am a narcissist. That took a degree of personal honesty to admit – which is in itself a narcissistic thing to say (jeez…). You are correct; there is something or someone from our deep past(s) which perpetuates our need for praise, validation and attention. I have found myself good at a multitude of things – most commonly characterized by others as talents, i.e. things you cannot learn but are born with and perfect over time – and I have used these to my advantage whenever I could. While I do not believe a “victim complex” is a narcissist’s modis operandi, there is certainly – as you stated – a deeper lying issue which may or may not have been under the narcissist’s control at the time but still helped shape the narcissist’s behavior over time. Thanks for having the bravery to opine and personally open up about your experiences.

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 5:38am

    Nothing wrong with being a Narcissist. NPD is a disorder treated with talk-therapy for the most part. High-level empathy is usually misconstrued as well and would benefit from treatment too.

    NPD is demonised a lot, and unfairly – people don't demonise depression or other mental illnesses, why NPD is given such sort shrift is baffling. Check out local psychiatrists in your area who work with NPD if you want, or work out best how to deal with it in personal life so it doesn't damage your relationships with others.

    anonymous Aug 12, 2015 8:55pm

    Your post is valid in my narcissist opinion and appreciated, Thank You….

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 6:50pm

Do narcissists even know or acknowledge what they are? Lol.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2015 8:39pm

    There is a ton of stigma around the term "narcissist" (read: the article above… who wants to be identified as a soul-sucking vampire?) but I have known people, my partner included, who know and acknowledge the characteristics that add up to being a narcissist…

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:27pm

    I believe the one I was involved with was smart enough to know what he was doing. The words come to mind: con man, manipulative, and outright hateful. When he was done with me (marrying someone else supposedly) he went out of his way to make me feel bad by calling me a lifelong victim and he felt sorry for me.

    So glad he found someone else to get over on. I was over him when I knew he COULD NOT accept my help for his physical illness.

    anonymous Oct 25, 2015 12:04am

    They do not, Victoria. It is a disorder that requires clinical diagnosis.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 6:29pm

Your take on narcissists is way off base.
Narcissists don’t have “agendas”– they are oblivious to the needs or feelings of others: their disorder’s description makes a point of saying that it’s all about the narcissist’s “me, myself, and I.”
Another point about the pathology of a narcissist is their complete lack of empathy: they cannot put themselves into another’s head; it usually never occurs to them to try doing this. They don’t notice the distress of others, so this wouldn’t happen: “When a narcissist sees that an empath is wounded…”
Narcissists don’t consciously walk away from relationships; the relationship (and the emotions associated with it) just fades away.
You identify narcissists with feelings and noticing emotions/control/etc. of others when that is just not part of their solipsistic nature.
Your take on empaths is pretty dead-on, though.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 12:23pm

    My narcissist boyfriend does not have an agenda either. He has no idea what kind of havoc he is causing. He has no empathy. He does not see how behaviors could be inconsiderate, disrespectful, etc. He also has huge difficulties trying to communicate his feelings. Due to his abusive childhood, he is afraid to give out information that could be used to hurt him. He answers questions with what he thinks I want to hear. Lying is his way of life, along with his siblings. I did believe for awhile that if I provided him a safe space, that he might lower his walls. I've learned that won't happen. Knowing why he is a narcissist and empathizing with what happened to him, does not make his behavior any less hurtful.

    anonymous Sep 14, 2015 12:09am

    My thoughts exactly.

    anonymous Oct 24, 2015 11:59pm

    Thank you for pointing out the inaccuracies of this "article". The bases for it are unfounded and are easily spotted by anyone that has taken a PSY101 course

    -Psych Major.

    anonymous Nov 21, 2015 9:09pm

    No she's right on point! They do have agendas…to drain theen energy of Empaths. Namely Earth signs.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 6:16pm

Wow. Thank you. So much. This article has brought me peace. I married 6 months ago and filed two days ago for divorce. I have had no words to describe the roller-coaster relationship that my marriage has become. I could not explain why my husband morphed into this person I never knew before marrying him; even though we had known each other for 10 years. I am the empath. And somehow within me Ive known, though wanting to still continue trying to “fix” his problems, which became our problems, Ive somehow quietly known that no matter how much effort I put in, it would change nothing and only would grow increasingly worse. How grateful I am to have found this article which has given me clarity.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2015 11:34pm

    Wow, it's like you're telling my story. I married my husband in January and divorcing him already. He was very verbally abusive. I cannot tell you how I fell for him, but I did, totally not the type of guy I would go after. I had to get out of it. It was very draining. He is emotionally, verbally and recently became physically abusive. That one physical interaction was enough for me. Now he's telling me I will never get another guy as good looking as him, that will not cheat on me. He also says, I'm evil for leaving him. Sad thing is he believes this. I just ignored him, it was funny. I THANK GOD, that I know better. When you've been treated well and know how to treat yourself well. This won't penetrate. The key is to recognize and GET OUT! They usually do not change and the main reason is, because the REALLY don't see themselves.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 5:45pm

This reflects my experience in my marriage perfectly. I never knew my husband was a narcissist. He always insisted that the incident in his childhood that I assumed must have been very painful didn't have the slightest affect on him. After 18 years of marriage and debilitating depression I finally got out, but not after I took the blame for every element that was wrong with our relationship. A year after our separation I am finally feeling back to my old self. Wounded, but much wiser. Thank you for writing this–I have spent so much time trying to understand what happened and the more articles and books that I read, the clearer it becomes–my part as well as his.

    anonymous Jul 3, 2015 1:03am

    Good for you, Deb! So glad you got out and back to your old self. So much healing is possible when you set those boundaries where they really ought to be.


    anonymous Sep 15, 2015 6:15am

    This is also my experience … you describe it almost perfectly the same as mine. Married to my "soul mate" for 12 years and never knew he is a narcissist or that I'm an empath. Never even heard those words until I was in counseling after we first separated because he had me convinced I was depressed and crazy. I wanted to get help and better for our 3 young children. Its been 13 years now and I'm much stronger and wiser. I still research and read what I can because it reaffirms what I've already learned. It amazes me every day to read articles about other people who have gone, or are going through the same situations. Its sad to know so many suffer with the same pain and hurt, but also uplifting to read of those that have survived and continue to conquer this horrible disorder.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 5:32pm

so true!!!!

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 9:34am

    So so true. Saw through the disguise immediately

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 5:17pm

I'm a narcissists and because of your position, you describe us like kind of monsters… and we're not. We don't look for your suffering and we're not like vampires… also the emphats like to manipulate and to treat you like shit and when you give them a lesson they became the victim, you're not mother theresa and you are also mean people.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2015 7:27pm

    100% agree to this. As a classic narcissist this article says that we are the bane of all mankind and should be tossed to the fires of hell, as far as I can read it. That's absolutely not true. There are personality types for a reason. Without them there would be massive functional gaps in society. I could easily say that empaths are enablers that cause addictive personalities to fall, and eventually die, due to their constant need to fulfill and heal someone by way of enabling. Not all narcissist are the serial killers they are being painted as in this article. Actually, very few of them are that evil. I'm guessing from the author bio however, that she has no actual training on personality constructs and has gotten most of her information about what a narcissist is from wikipedia. It's even more upsetting to think that the people reading this article believe what has been written about narcissists and may feel like hearing something of this nature qualifies them to have judgement on a topic as complex as personality and social psychology.

      anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:46am

      Narcissistic personality disorder is the result of wounding which causes the heart to close. It's not who a person actually is at the core of their soul. It is a developed set of traits that can be un-done with healing. Of course they're not serial killers. But the statement "without them there would be functional gaps in society…" That is not true. If everyone healed, people would lose their narcissism and would become even better givers and contributors to society… and society would become even more functional.

      anonymous Jul 5, 2015 3:26pm

      So…you are saying without Narcissists there would be massive functional gaps in society? Ha!!! Typical of a Narcissist to think that they are such an important part of society! And, of coarse you're going to attack the author of the article because no one knows more than the "all-knowing" Narc! You need to take yourself into a corner and talk to yourself in a mirror, because no one could love you more than yourself!

      anonymous Aug 2, 2015 12:07am

      Justin—-a person does not have to be a serial killer to hurt another human being –that is the flaw in your position—you can be evil and destructive to another person without physically assaulting them—it is when you emotionally rape them, you are doing damage to them—-the fact that you do not understand that speaks volumes —-please seek help so you can lead a productive and happy life without hurting others around you–(because you may VERY WELL be doing so, WHETHER you are aware of that or not)—-I do not think IF there is a school to learn compassion —perhaps there should be—-(that usually comes from our paretns–FYI–wink- wink–hint hint)—-ROSE

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:31am

    I SO HATE WHEN IM TRYING TO BE “taught a lesson”…. One of the narcissistic traits is also they treat us empaths like children and want to teach us a lesson. No one who is an adult wants to feel like a child by being taught a lesson. We only want love and kindness. I’m doing my best to understand the person I’m married to. We been married twice now because I believed all his out pourings of love and devotion and promises to change. It’s just not happening. Me and my 3 kids moved out. He had to move too because he couldn’t afford it anymore I’m the one who took care of it all. The house the bills and the kids. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted and we never did anything as a family- and I still let him come over and I just moved 2 months ago! I’m an idiot but I’ve also lost myself and have no support system because no one understands what happened to me everyone wants the “old me” back- so do I but I don’t know how to do that when I can’t seem to let him go. Before we married the second time I asked him why he felt this overwhelming need to marry me again with everything that he’d done the first time around and he said “it’s because of the way you love me unconditionally no matter what ” if I knew then what I am just learning maybe I’d have understood how deeply he meant that and how the absence of him saying how me he loved me I needed to hear was just not said at least not when I asked that question. Anyway, my point is this: it is demeaning to say one adult is trying to teach another adult a lesson and diminishes our sense of self worth when one actually really does it. He did/does still do this to me and I’m just now starting to say”wtf??!!” Instead of acting like a child and saying , for example, “I’m sorry I said I asked for a hug at the wrong time I won’t do it again.” And that’s just a small one, even tho the “lesson” I was taught was anything but small. I’m not trying to be mean or anything of that nature, I’m simply saying you can’t teach another grown adult a lesson if u want them them to NOT act like a child.

      anonymous Jul 2, 2015 1:44am

      I hated that too, him trying to teach me lessons by punishing me emotionally with the silent treatment and distance. I told him many times that this way of "teaching" me something will never work but will definitely hurt me deeply… he did not understand at all, he said he could not help himself and that if he doesn't take from me what I want from him how am I supposed to learn anything. Yes dear empaths believe those people who say things like this, I get our need to understand the mechanics of the other one and try to fix them or show them that they can heal, but if they don't see that they have a problem there is no use. One has to accept they have problems and then decide for themselves that they have work to do in order to heal. After I left, I was such a mess after 2 and 1/2 years that I even thought I was a crazy person (I'm in counselling and not crazy at all), he says he wants to change and wants to take good care of me like I deserve (he was even crying telling me he doesn't know who he is). I don't believe people change by night but he is free to try and demonstrate that his actions, soul and heart are where his words are, while I live my life separately from him. I'm a strong person who loves life, I forgot that for a period of time, but now I am back and I've learned my lessons well, ty my dear N, unknowingly you've helped build a stronger, more assertive, self-assured, self-loving, more popular, life loving person that has been trough hell and back and knows that nothing, and nobody, will be able to destroy her again, I'm tougher than a diamond!

        anonymous Sep 12, 2015 11:56pm

        I was with a girl and she was a totally depressed Narcissist. I think depression goes with Narcissism. I consider myself an empath.. she would make me feel bad whenever I couldn't see her because I am away at college and I am far from her. I know that she wants to see me, but she would TRY with all of her might to make me feel guilty for not being able to comply with seeing her. I couldn't help it. I am very far away and its hard to see her every week. She would never try to understand that. She would also be very inconsiderate of my wants and needs. Totally inconsiderate. The only time she realized I was hurt (even after telling her) would be when I broke up with her and I guess that my breaking up with her made her realize she was losing her victim. Loosing her supply of energy and happiness.

        Before anyone hurt gets tries a relationship, they need to fix themselves first. No one can do that for them.
        You can't be happy with someone else if you aren't happy with yourself.

      anonymous Jul 14, 2015 6:46pm

      Wow I am surrounded by narsicists 🙁

      anonymous Aug 15, 2015 11:20am

      Additionally, the empath seems to prefer to wallow in their misery and have a big ole party of feeling bad for themself. Rather than taking the lesson which could help avoid that nonsense in the future. From my narcissist point of view, it seems the empaths, have no desire to overcome anything that makes them feel bad, its seemingly enough to feel bad and acknowledge it.

        anonymous Jan 1, 2016 4:46pm

        When the narcissist cloaks their behavior so well, calculate and twist things in such a fashion that an empath (and yes, I do resonate with being an empath) is absolutely gobsmacked when the true narcissist emerges, how do you figure just "feeling bad and acknowledging it" will make us feel like anything less then a victim? I just got out of a year and a half long relationship with a narcissist who charaded as a nice guy and a victim. I remember him saying to me at one point that he was "afraid" he was going to harm me "body, mind and spirit" and that he was "an energy vampire". I had no idea why he was saying the things he did until now. He knew what he was doing, so how can I be anything other then one of the victims you mock?

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:50am

    Well, you may be right , and I am an empath I was mean to a narssicist but it was only based on his attitude towards me. So it makes me think I shouldn t have done that either mock him because he did it to me. We empths learn so many manipulative techniques from narssicistic people that when we apply them on you you don t like it. So sorry for that. You are right we can be mean too if we choose to be. But meaness in narssicistic people it s just their natural state of being. Accept it or change it like we accept pain or deal with it based on your behavior.

      anonymous Jun 28, 2015 5:14pm

      Cat, I could not agree more! I am recently separated and started a journal in which it says the same thing, "If he hadn't used, abused, goaded, criticized, humiliated, debased and try to control me, I wouldn't have had to split up with him.''

      anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:12pm

      "meaness" in a Narcissist is not because they are mean, but because they are trying to fill a need that cannot actually be fulfilled by anyone but themselves. I believe we are actually emotionally stunted because of the wound we suffered in our youth. The younger it happened, the less we have learned about actual interaction between people. It is like cooking a delicious meal for a person who hasn't eaten in days and after they're done, looking for praise about the taste. They weren't processing it as delicious, but as desperately needed calories that must be consumed as soon as possible. Now imagine being a person who is *always* starving this way – wouldn't you look for a chef willing to feed you constantly?

      It isn't mean (necessarily, we can be jerks like anyone else) just what we feel we need to survive. I think the only way Empaths can help Narcissists is to get them to see that the attention and devotion that they constantly require won't reduce their hunger, but more importantly how to love themselves. It is the only thing that saved me.

        anonymous Jun 30, 2015 7:54am

        Perfect Sarah im an empath married to a Narcissist we make it work! It was a tough go for the first 8 yrs but we learned alot together now we feed each other! Hes become a awesome cook! If the empath knows themselve and is secure within themselves then the triggering aspect of the N can not do harm but can be of great growth to each other! Were still going strong and we still have issues but humor also has been a great healer in all of this ! The thing is were twin flames so we gotta make it work and do the growth together ! Yup the old man has learned to go within to find the love then share it with me and others!! Im glad i didnt read this 13 yrs ago i mightve given up on a great thing!!!

          anonymous Jul 2, 2015 1:52am

          Maybe you can tell us more on how you made it work 😉
          Congratulations on you hard work and loving relationship!
          I'm trying to do the same with my N, we realized we can grow together, but I'm afraid h will soon lose interest, and I don't know how to motivate him.

          anonymous Aug 12, 2015 11:07pm


          How wondrous you two made it work. I met my twin flame. We had a vigorous 2 year relationship…very hot and fast moving. We have been separated for 6 months. He is an N and I'm and E. So many of my energy working friends said that twin flames don't often meet and when they do, they don't often stay together. I'm grateful for our separation, because he sucked me dry. I'm having to reteach my self how to love and take care of my own person. I wonder if it will be possible for me to find great passion ever again.

            anonymous Sep 1, 2015 2:18pm


            I just recently divorced what I thought was my "twin flame". I was married to her for nearly 5 years, and we were together for 7. She broke my heart and I was ready to call it quits where women were concerned.

            In a twist of fate, and a miracle from God, I have met a woman who coaxed me from the cave I was beginning to crawl into. She, too, has suffered at the hands of a narc, so we recognize each other's bruised hearts and love each other in ways that I have never before experienced, even with my narc ex-wife.

            I just wanted to let you know that yes, great passion (even better than before) can be found!

        anonymous Jul 19, 2015 5:51am

        This is helpful to know, thank you for explaining and expanding.. I very much agree with you..

      anonymous Feb 20, 2016 7:09pm

      There is a difference between being "mean" and standing up for yourself. Ultimately, narcs do not want you to stand up for yourself, and when you finally do, they try to make you feel guilty by saying you are "mean".

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 8:58pm

    I'm a narcissistic and strive every day to be a better person, thanks to a tough lesson learnt from an empathy.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 3:47am

    No Empaths DO NOT seek to manipulate anyone. Your post has classic narcissist all over it. Does convincing yourself that we are all horrible people make it easier to treat us like crap? empaths want nothing more then to help only a truly selfish person (aka you Elisa) would twist that into a story about you. Its amazing how much you've deluded yourself. You see any form of kindness as a manipulation. Not to mention the 'give them a lesson' so now you're looking down on us? As it says in the article a narcissist will twist the situation in their mind and make the empath responsible for their problems. Your lack of awareness if astounding. You're a monster (made by your own experiences but still a monster), we ever claimed to be angels and we never claimed to be 'mother theresa'. People like you are poison. Anyone with a brain cell can see it. Seriously seek some form of help before getting into a relationship. No one deserves people like you'

      anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:51pm

      Perhaps it is manipulative to try to change someone at all. I find it amusing you are attacking OP for openly sharing her experience why claiming to be so empathic yourself. The reason some empaths can seem toxic to someone without empathy is because they get so over emotional and oversensitive over the other persons lack of emotion, which is pretty irritating to listen to. The best way to solve these kind of conflicts is to simply keep interaction to a minimum with people who are incompatible with you.

        anonymous Jul 7, 2015 9:53am

        If you don't have any empathy, then I'd say you're not really in a position to label someone "over-emotional" or "over-sensitive." The fact that you could see a loved one in emotional distress that you've caused and your only thought is how annoying it is…I'm just sickened by that. That's what I call toxic. Not only for the other person, but for all of society. Bone chilling.

        anonymous Feb 7, 2016 10:56am

        It is called Sensitivity Training for a reason. Insensitivity Training is not a lesson I've been able to find. Life beatings don't count.

      anonymous Jul 6, 2015 11:59pm

      Berating a narcissist is a complete waste of time – and lacks empathy! LOL

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:04am

    ‘Teach them a lesson’ wow. Just wow. Would you llike to bw taught a lesson? I highly doubt it as it’s the sure way to get someone to hate you. How about you just accept your partner for who they are. Don’t teach them any lessons for goodness sake. . That’s just evil.

    anonymous Jun 29, 2015 6:26am

    so classic narcissit

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 6:15pm

    Narcissists aren't usually looking tohurtpeoplealthough they often do hurt them. Thepersonality type tha hurts eople and is very much like a narcissist is a sociopath. They have many traits in common with a naricssist and can often be both a narcissistand a sociopaht. Those wre waht I have seen described as a narcopath or a malignant naricssist. That si what i had my experience with. The teoor after the relationship ended adn the smear campaign that he committed against me rivals a lifetime movie. he ruined my professianl reputation and my personal one as well. he did damage tah will remin with me nd agianst me for ever. He is tryly a sociopath. ANywya, narcissiststend to be self focues and that is how htey hurt us and a sociopath just likes to hurt people in addition to being self focused.

      anonymous Jul 5, 2015 4:19pm

      A Narcissist lives for the game. Their whole life is finding someone they can play that game with. They ARE out to hurt, belittle, demean, and anything else they can do to. They try to hurt people because it gives them the power they need.

    anonymous Jul 1, 2015 10:26pm

    The article is referring to someone with narcissistic personality disorder. Someone that has been so injured they have hidden their true self's deep inside and show only a false self, without empathy or caring, on the outside. Their positioning, building up of self, over compensating, bragging, and putting others down is all to make themself feel better, due to a complete lack of self construct and awareness believed to be due to some form of splitting from their true self due to a severe trauma ( almost dieing, seeing someone else die,or suffer serious physical trauma, severe physical, sexual, emotional-abuse/neglect, having a severe loss at a young age) that impacts the individual so severely that this happens. Those who develop the personality disorder vs others it is believed is due to genetics, environment, adaptability, age at trauma, other adult supports. They live in a state of denial in their belief that they are better than others, rationalizing their faults and blaming others for their difficulties. They are unable to honestly connect with others due to their false self, inability to connect with their own emotions, and therefor have empathy for others. That part of them was closed off due to the trauma, it is not conscious decision, yet an adaptive creation of the mind in order to survive in the face of such despair. It is a coping mechanism of the brain, that was serving at the time. Unfortunately, In order to change this, the narcissist faces the potential of the fragile ego shattering into pieces and having no construct of self to build from. A very shallow view of the world as well as others, and no ability to deal with or identify emotions.

      anonymous Jul 2, 2015 10:41pm

      This is a very good explanation. I have had long term relationships with 2 narcissists both severely abused as children. They were both very good looking, charming and funny but completely scornful of any insecurity or emotional vulnerability on my part. which was constantly triggered by narc's arrogance and lack of empathy. Their fragile egos, constant need for praise and validation from everyone around them is completely exhausting. Frequent job changes, fall outs with friends and other dramas with money etc, always the narc is the victim in these situations. As an empath I was always willing to believe their excuses. They say anything to get their own way and make wild promises and declarations of love but when challenged or caught in a lie just pack up and leave without a 2nd thought even when kids are involved.. The denial is so strong that the narc cannot see anything wrong in their behaviour, always able to justify it. Now I am finding out all I can so that I can see the red flags that are always there at the beginning of the relationship if you know what they are. Also now focusing my energy on healing my own childhood wounds so I can reciprocate the genuine love that I hope to experience one day.

    anonymous Jul 2, 2015 9:04pm

    Thank you for confirming everything in this article. In what way is "teaching somebody a lesson" the basis of any sort of healthy relationship?

    anonymous Jul 5, 2015 3:20pm

    Your comment was spoken like a true Narcissist. Don't take responsibility and blame the other person. Yes, a Narcissist is a monster, and a manipulative one, at that. You lie, deceive, and use people for your narcissistic supply, and when you've depleted all they have to offer, you discard them, without thinking twice. You enjoy the pain you can cause other people because it gives you the power you crave. Take responsibility for your actions and maybe you can be one of the rare Narcissists who can change.

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 7:17am

    Sigh… really? There's a constructive way to teach "lessons"… it's about building people up not tearing them down. This is a classic narc response to being "outed"…. put the blame elsewhere and chuck a hissy fit calling people names to try to discredit them.

    anonymous Aug 1, 2015 11:43pm

    elisa —i do not know why you believe you are a narcissist–were you diagnosed as such?—–but I beg to differ with your opinion—-narcissists are indeed monsters—-(although they may not consciously realize that they are because they are so self absorbed; it goes with the territory)—–you say the empaths like to manipulate and treat you like shit?—that interpretation is classic "projection"—psychology 101 in college—–look it up if you are not familiar with the term "projection"—–and please clarify when you say "when you give them a lesson"—–who are YOU to give anyone a lesson?—are you GOD?????—-giving someone "a lesson" is a game—for silly, immature, mentally ill people—-direct communication with another person is much more effective than giving someone "a lesson"— the rest of us have no need to give anyone a lesson—we are too busy living our lives—-and trying to be happy—no my dear—the empaths do not believe they are mother teresa——and they are not mean people—am sorry you have such a distorted view of other people—you need to seek the help of a psychiatric professional—-someone who has studied and had training with the subject of narcissism—-I can only hope that they will work with you and guide you away from such a toxic mentality—it is not good for you and not good for those around you!—–from your photo, you appear to be a young lady–with your whole life ahead of you—-if you are indeed a narcissist, please fight it—–because you will never be truly happy being that way——get the help and guidance you need—–it will not be easy—-this disorder is very difficult to conquer—or so i have heard——but if you want to happy, I think you need to get some help—-good luck to you–I hope you have a brighter and happier future–rose

    anonymous Aug 12, 2015 9:40am


    anonymous Oct 22, 2015 1:56pm

    Sorry but none of you self-proclaimed narcissists are narcissists. You may be selfish and/or self – centered which is not the same. I have a family member who is a narcissist and would never in a million years admit to something like that because that would be admitting to a disorder. Narcissists never admit to anything that shines a negative light on them. Ever.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2015 8:46pm

    I am an empath married to a narcissist for 18 years now, we are separating because I know I'm not good with him. The article is in fact not making out narcissists to be monsters, it's actually telling you exactly what narcissist personalities do, and is quite accurate. I don't consider my husband to be a monster. He is a misguided soul that needs help that I hope he can eventually find and really learn to love himself. I still have love and compassion for him, I'm just not in love with him anymore due to his treatment of me and my children, and the lengths he will go to in a very negative fashion to get what he wants, and the fact that nothing else matters but what he wants, basically "it's his way or the highway, and if you don't get his way then you mean nothing." An empath understands that people are people and can love you no matter who you are and what you think because everyone is so individual and wonderful because they are so individual, why do you think we stay with narcissist spouses, significant others, etc., even when we are constantly told we are worthless every single day and try to change to fit your mold of what you want us to be? My relationship has compromised my health, well-being, my career choices, everything in my life until I finally woke up one day and realized I had absorbed so much of his negativity that somewhere in there I lost the love for myself. It is a vicious cycle. Something I found very accurate about the article as well is that narcissists do absorb the energies of an empath, I wouldn't go as far as "emotional vampires" just because that sounds like an evil act, and doesn't apply unless you are a sociopath or psychopath who really clinically have no capacity to feel, narcissists do have the capacity to feel. When I started finally doing my own healing and pulling away from my husband's toxic negative patterns, I started meditating, doing yoga, taking time out to love myself fully, suddenly he started to meditate, exercising, taking more care of himself, trying desperately to have a more positive outlook on the world (unfortunately I know he doesn't because he shows his true colors from time to time), but if he can do this for himself, maybe there is hope for him in the future. I truly hope the best for you Elisa in being able to find your own positive outlook on the world and to truly love yourself.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2016 10:24pm

    I'm an empath who has loved a narcissist for over 20 years, and I appreciate your comment.

    The majority of our relationship was toxic because I did not take the time to understand the differences between us and how we manage the traumas of our youth. I ended our relationship 6 years ago, and it was very damaging to him and me. We are attempting to reunite. He came back to me. He expressed love and appreciation. He said I was worthy of his love. He described the pain of losing me. These were all things I know to be extremely difficult for him to express because of his narcissism.

    I am researching what both empaths and narcissists are and the reasons for their behavior. Knowing, now, that the narcissism is a coping mechanism has helped me immensely…that understanding keys into my being an empath. Now that I know WHY he is the way he is, I can learn how to navigate a relationship with him. I know it will never be easy – we are polar opposites in our approach to situations and our needs. I will be sensitive to what he needs and intentional with how I communicate with him. And I will also work on my own insecurities so he doesn't have as much leverage for manipulation.

    Friends have repeatedly told me to run. But I truly love him for all that he is and I am committed to finding ways to make this work. I don't believe narcissists are monsters. They are human like all of us, and deserving of love like all of us. If this doesn't work, at least I tried and will have learned more about myself in the process and I will have not given up on our love just because we handle our issues so differently.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 4:48pm

Thank you for writing this- This is exactly the relationship I've been in for 15 years and just broke it off e3 days ago- finally can make sense of it all

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 4:25pm

I can’t believe how much this article resonates with me. Getting out of a 22 year marriage with a man who you perfectly described. I unfortunately was in it so long that my narcissists tendencies surfaced and that was exactly when he started to pull away. Although it hurts like hell to go through this with 2 daughters being affected, he saved my life by letting me go.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 1:25pm

I’m an empath married to narcissist. I’ve Venn surrounded by then all my life. I’m wondering if what you are saying is an empath should be with another empath and a narcissist should be with another narcissist.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:40am

    It's more that anyone who is wise should avoid a relationship with a narcissist as they have nothing to offer and will only take, and destroy. An empath, or any upstanding person, should simply seek to be with a loving person with whom they resonate. I don't think it matters if it's an empath, per se.

      anonymous Jun 29, 2015 5:02pm

      I am going to have to disagree there. I am both an Empath and a Narcissist, and am very caring for my friends and loved ones. I just also need regular validation, which I receive both due to my looks and also the help, attention, and care I give to my friends.

        anonymous Jun 30, 2015 6:18pm

        Real Ns are very rarely able to identify themselves as such. You are probably not clinically an N (no offense! :). You may be able to identify your insecurities but Ns are very good at blaming others for everything, even their own negative behaviors. Ns are broken and very rarely get help b/c they don't identify themselves as the problem. They undermine relationships by sabotaging their partners. I'm of the opinion – having been raised by one -that there is no solution for an N that doesn't seek help (and sometimes even those b/c they are even able to manipulate psychologists) and everyone should just get out of the way. And be good to your kids b/c not loving them authentically is the fastest way to create more Ns.

          anonymous Nov 10, 2015 9:49pm

          That's exactly how my ex boyfriend was. He literally thought he was perfect (would tell me this and wouldn't listen to any logic to the contrary such as how everyone has faults). He blamed me for everything in our relationship, and rarely apologized for anything. I, on the other hand, was taught to always look honestly at my fault, admit them, apologize, and grow. So I kept doing that and he kept denying his own issues until the relationship was terribly unbalanced with me doing all the loving, forgiving, and growing and him doing all the accusing, rejecting, and denying. My heart stayed soft and his heart just got harder and harder until he left for good. It took me months to realize he was both a liar and a cheater, and that our breakup was not all my fault. :- I feel very stupid, but what can I say? I trusted and loved him.

    anonymous Jul 2, 2015 5:41am

    What Empaths need to understand is that the cycle will continue to perpetuate until they find healing themselves. What makes as empath is someone who has been wounded in childhood and feels that their only value can be found in helping and healing others because this is mirroring what they are looking for. What they don't realize is that the narcissist is adicted to the pleasure they find in the pain of the empath. Victim and victimizer resonate on the same frequency which is what attracts them to each other in the first place. The Empath needs to find healing through raising their frequency. Hope you find this helpful.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 12:31pm

Thank you, Alex Myles, for this excellent article. I don't know if my earlier attempt to post a comment worked or not, but since then I've written a blog article which includes the reply I was trying to compose. The gist of it is I know I'm an Empath and am just out of a disastrous relationship with someone who fits description of Narcissist, although I think both of us have qualities of both. It continues to bewilder me and I continue to try to understand the dynamics because it was so excruciatingly painful that I do not want to make such a mistake again. This is the link and if you can shed some light on my confusion I'd be most grateful.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 12:05pm

All I can say, is Yes, to this entire article. It was important for me having an empath type personality, never to make this mistake again (in a long term relationship). It took me nearly 25 years to find a partner whose personality blended with mine. Long wait, but glad I did. My marriage to the narcissist was painful and personally destructive.

    anonymous Sep 15, 2015 5:43am

    thank you for giving me some hope. After years of counseling I discovered I too have an empath personality that had been married to a narcissist. It was devastating and a relief at the same time to finally understand what happened. Its been 12 years since we separated and divorced, but I remain single because I trust no one. I hope someday to meet the right man and will be able to have a loving trusting long term relationship. I continue to be patient.

      anonymous Feb 2, 2016 2:27pm

      You have to put yourself out there and try, even if it will hurt. Just, wade shallowly at first ya know? Don't dive head first because it feels good, I know, I'm an empath too. That first rush when you're both on the same emotional page is a rush greater than any drug. But hiding yourself away forever is only going to result in you never actually being happy. Take it from me, someone who also spent more than a decade single out of pain. You can find a good person.

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 11:41am

I am an Empath. I'm beginning to think I might be a Narcissist, too, or at least have some of those traits. Recent past I've been attracted to reading all I can find about the relationships between Empaths and Narcissists.
I've recently been through a brief, intense and rapid relationship that was disastrous and I was left feeling bewildered, traumatized and numb with shock.
Both of us were deeply wounded as children, both have done a lot of healing work. Both are highly intelligent women who are well educated and have well developed personal spiritual practices. We have similar interests and life experiences, we were both looking for a long term relationship and we seemed most compatible. It started "going bad" with a small incident that lead to my being triggered and her being reactive, and vice versa. Crazy-making.
She seems to fit the description of a Narcissist with traits of an empath. One of the things about me she was most attracted to – my compassion for others. She told me early on that she was not a very sensitive or compassionate person and could not ever take care of me in any way. She said she wanted to learn compassion. I do think perhaps in therapy she learned she was a Narcissist and is trying to change that to becoming a more compassionate person.
I'm beginning to believe that I will never solve or completely understand the dynamics of what happened between us. It is very confusing and I cannot see the forest for the trees, at this moment anyway.
I think I'd be best off to let it all go and focus on Maitri, building my relationship of love for myself and taking good/better care of myself. I wanted to process and have closure of the relationship but she doesn't want to, so I'm trying to find closure for myself, and trying to take responsibility for my part in the whole dysfunction that happened.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2015 6:47pm

    My issue is that I consider myself a narcissist but have been in a relationship with another narcissist who is far more "needy" therefore forcing me to be the empath and never truly solving my own narcissistic issues. I don't consider myself narcasistic enough for me to be a soul sucker but I definitely have unresolved issues that have impacted my relationship at times. But I never get the chance to truly deal with these and move on. It's a tricky double edged sword.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 11:34am

    Its your empathic part that wants to take the blame for whole relationship. She has no empathy one way or another not even to help you in the end leaving it on a good note. Your a good person your on the right path nurture yourself learn from this and move on. What your feeling is normal. Just forgive yourself your human. Xxoo

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 12:12pm

    i think what's missing from this article is a description of how a true narcissist "grooms" their target by zoning in on their vulnerabilities. they are chameleons who change to match their surroundings – i.e. they "become" the person you are looking for and convince you that you are soulmates in order to get you to let down your defenses (and toss aside your critical thinking skills.) they also play the wounded bird role in order to play on your sympathies, to distract you from how shallow & destructive they really are, and to get you to share your weaknesses – which they will put in their back pocket to use against you later. and they will also sprinkle in a little bit of truth – "i bet you wouldn't like me if you really got to know me" but it's a ploy to get you invested into proving them wrong. sounds like your gf was doing all of this to you: "i'm not a good person (hook) and i've never met anyone like you (line) – you can help me because you can teach me to be a good person like yourself (sinker)."

      anonymous Jun 30, 2015 2:23am

      You have nailed it.

      anonymous Jul 4, 2015 12:34am

      Yes all those are hooks,and yes you actually fall in love with yourself as they mirror you,and in the early stages,they get as much information out of you,so they know how to hook you in as quickly as possible,also when you get to the devaluation stage they can use it to tear you apart.
      And yes they play the victim,poor them,till you really see them when the mask is off,the ugliness that lies beneath it.

      anonymous Jul 13, 2015 4:12am

      So unsettling to add premeditation to the mix..but you got my attention with the reference to "hook,line&sinker analogy!! needless to say..I haven't dismissed ONE red flag in any of my relationships since my ex husband,but I haven't consistantly called "game over" at that point either. I am a work in progress and I appreciate you for simply speaking my language!!

    anonymous Jun 30, 2015 10:15am

    I would like to say, first, we all have potential to be narcissistic at times. This does not mean we are narcissists. 2nd, if you are truly interested in understanding Narcissists, read "The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists." It was a game changer for me! Hope this helps <3

    anonymous Jul 6, 2015 7:45am

    I had a very similar experience. My then-partner and I were together for 5 years. In the midst of a freakishly horrid 2 weeks of family deaths, and my need for a support system, I turned to her. She should have been there, but she was only briefly. I immersed myself in work and deep grieving. She finally called an end to our relationship. The woman I had only had 2 arguments with was done. I have unclear memories of what actually happened, but I have had a thriving spiritual life since then, and I will freely admit that my spirituality was the only thing that saved me during those very dark times. A small, but highly trusted group of friends and remaining family members have become my lifeline. Those highly valued people always remember to encourage me to take better care of myself and reinforce the positive. I found worth in my trustworthy pets. A reason to keep participating in life. The healing will come in time. It is just the waiting that is so incredibly difficult.

      anonymous Aug 11, 2015 11:48pm

      "The healing will come in time. It is just the waiting that is so incredibly difficult."

      I couldn't agree more… Just out of a 2.5 year relationship but we're both Narcissists/Empaths… and leaving her was the hardest thing I ever had to do… as I still love her with all my heart! Sad times… 🙁

    anonymous Jul 6, 2015 11:53pm

    What is interesting is that a high percentage of people who claim to be empaths are actually narcissists. True narcissists never identify as narcissistic. Their ego will not allow them to see those negative traits. And a true empath is usually also a wounded soul. Either extreme is not a healthy personality type. All people have traits in each of the extremes, but mentally healthy individuals will find balance

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 7:13am

    I think we all have narcissistic qualities in some form or another or at some time or another – they stem from "self love" (everyone should love themselves and put themselves first, do what's best for themselves… to some degree – it's healthy). Usually if you are a true narc you won't be able to see it in yourself and if you do you sure as hell won't be willing to admit it or say it out loud. If you can be that aware and take responsibility for your behavior and seek to change I feel that means you are not a true narc. Good on you for being so brave and accountable – good luck with your journey.

    anonymous Nov 11, 2015 4:29pm

    Perhaps you are thinking of "borderline" and not "narcissist." A narcissist cannot have "traits of an empath" because they are opposites. Part of what makes a narcissist a narcissist is that they lack the ability to feel empathy. They can feel sympathy, but they can't "walk in someone else's shoes." Also, typical narcissists believe their early childhood is a great one; how else would they have grown up to be such "perfect" people? If this person is a narcissist, you are projecting empathic traits on them.
    If you have ever met a narcissist, you will not confuse self-centeredness with narcissism. Narcissists have a perfect image of themselves, and it's blasphemy to contradict it; they gaslight and triangulate, lie as easily as breathe. The only way a narcissist would ever admit they are one is if they think it adds to their prestige. Otherwise, it would tarnish their perfection. The mere fact that you are here and not bragging suggests you aren't a narcissist.

      anonymous Nov 30, 2015 12:54pm

      "A narcissist cannot have "traits of an empath" because they are opposites."
      Empaths are a brand of narcissists called "inverted". Self awareness is very important, and the empath receives no ill feelings because all they do is give and love, but this is, in fact, the inverted narcissist.

    anonymous Nov 30, 2015 12:51pm

    Well discovered, annelwing.
    Dear world, please study personality disorders before using the term "empath". This is the nice way of addressing a narcissist. Not all narcissists are outwardly bad, some of them feed by giving constantly, and they wouldn't knowingly hurt a fly, however they are still narcissists in that they do all these things in order to feed their inner child, who is forever desperate for approval and compassion. The term is "inverted narcissist", aka "empath".

anonymous Jun 27, 2015 11:11am

Been there done that. I am the empath, he was the narcissistic jerk, and a preacher to boot! I didn’t see it 7ntil iy was too late and by then he was on to his next victim who married him….I wouldn’t.

    anonymous Jul 26, 2015 6:21am

    This was well written and rather accurate, at least in an empathist's perspective. Although I don't think its "impossible" for these two types to ever have any kind of valuable and sustainable relationship, I think it depends on the situation. In a classic situation I can understand that overall these two types probably aren't the best for one another, It is POSSIBLE. Its about understanding and accepting whatever "type" you are and embracing it for not the weaknesses you have but instead of your strengths. If someone "matters" enough to you, you WILL change and do whatever you can not to allow this to become a downward spiral toxic relationship. Narcissist or not, its all about understanding not only who YOU are but who the other person is as well. If you learn how to talk to others, understand others and their feelings, despite any narcissistic traits you may carry, you can adjust your perspective acordingly to establish many relationships throughout your life that are worth it, so to speak. From experience, MOST narcisstics Ive met and had relationships with don' even realize their ways and it typically takes some kind of "event" usually negative, to be able to look in the mirror and accept who they are by embracing what they are good at instead of focusing on purely the negative side of things.

      anonymous Aug 30, 2015 9:47am

      Ok….sorry to unload. But you seem knowledgeable and willing to offer insight. I am an Empath. Its something I only discovered about myself within these past few years. I knew what I felt. I knew my personality and interaction, but I didn't have a name to it. People would call me psychic because of my level of accuracy. I never felt that was the proper label for me. But working in the field these past few years with the wealth of information at your fingertips, I was finally able to establish my personality niche. Now with that said. A little background on my relationship. I have known my husband for 35 yrs. I am 42. We have been together as a couple for over 25 and married for almost 22. I knew had issues going in. But at the time of youth, I didn't think they were deal breakers bc his issues were similar to my father's….abandonment. He also learned to mask who he was with me by mimicking other people's genuine traits. We married young, have 3 children ranging from 13 to 22. Over the more recent years he identity maskers (for a lack of a better word) have been coming down and he has been showing who he is. His family was the same way. No one has been able to stay married to them. None of them. They all now live in one house together like a compound as a result. He and his family's narcissism has broken my health to a million pieces. I am now in a catch 22. If I could sustain a life for me and my children out in the real world, I would. I am trying to hold on until my youngest leaves for college, but I honestly don't think I will survive in this toxic soup bowl. Bottom line….when he is great, he is super great. He can be a really nice guy and knows how to emulate that to the public, so that when I cry for help, I look like the deserving fool. But when he is nasty, its bad. I try to resist engaging him with a come back, but if I don't come back with something right away, he will come at me until I feel like I am backed in a corner with no where to run and then I explode. Not healthy, I know. But, coming back with logic and reason right away, may diffuse the situation for the time being, but its like he gets but hurt that he couldn't be the macho master on have the power and will look for things to engage something me with. Obviously, I can't go or would have by now. Is there anything that as an Empath you would recommend as a tool to help? I know that may seem like a far stretch at this point. But if there as anything that maybe we can do as a couple or I myself to that may help lesson the friction, maybe we can figure out how to coexist or I can at least make it until she is off to college.

    anonymous Oct 12, 2015 1:34pm

    oh ex was a preacher too…incredibly sad

anonymous Jun 28, 2015 1:34am

The article actually states that the empath is the problem and they are not perfect, it was their personality which caused the issue in the first instance.

Lorna Younger Sep 14, 2018 6:32am

Boundaries, exactly. Stop rescuing, stop falling into their "pain". Focus on the goodness of life and outward. Taking responsibility for our own lives and actually allowing others to take responsiblity for their own. Empaths are so sensitive, and yet so strong - carrying the load of the world. Stop doing that and put that energy into your own life. I'm pretty excited about that, myself. :)

Lorna Younger Sep 14, 2018 6:27am

Exactly. As an "empath" I now know that I have my own addiction to taking care of people and not knowing how to say no. I am the cause of my own dysfunctional relationship with two narcissts, sociopaths, whatever they are (were). Had I not represened as the fixer and believed that myself, the relationship(s) would have never lasted as long as they did. I don't wear "empath" as a badge of honor, although it seems like an admirable trait, it is in fact a sickness not unlike narcissim; however, the best part is, with self analysis and perhaps counseling, we can actually "fix ourselves" and no longer need to be addicted to fixing others.

Stipanov Mlin Sep 2, 2018 1:27am

Kimberly Worden Hammond Jul 8, 2018 12:50pm

I just left my narcissistic fiance. Now I know who I am and why it happened this way. A very toxic relationship.

Julian Young Jul 8, 2018 11:34am

Well said, I agree with all you have said. Recovery is hard though

Meridith McKay Jul 8, 2018 3:36am

Thank you! Took a huge risk and shared it with my husband...we shall see if the truly good I feel and know is in him responds beyond the proverbial narcissistic response I’m so very used to. I hope so...not for my sake because I’ve found the strength to walk away, but for his.

Rachel Passons May 25, 2018 9:26am

Wife: empath, Hubby: narcississt, 14 yrs and 4 kids together. Article has many good points and maybe more helpful to newby relationships. Walking away is not my answer. Black & white: not an ideal relationship. It's not just black & white though. Accepting who someone is and not having to "fix" or "change" them and communicating / setting bounderies and a lot of give and take and loving someone enough to focus on being who/ what a narcissist needs to grow not just be who they want you to be or be controlled. Love them, compliment them, lift their self worth, and build them up. They'll still have narcissistic characteristics but that doesnt mean they are doomed to be a bad person. Life can be great with them. It can also have its ups and downs like any relationship. And it can be like hell. For me, our greatest days are worth our worst. I say this, in our worst days now, and it's mind numbing trying to get through. I give & give & give. And I swollow so much pain. And I sacrifice so much. And it's the "turning into a narcissist yourself" mentioned in the article, that makes you want to walk away. Tired of giving, being taken for granted, hurting, and wanting your needs to take priority for once. Well, many ppl tell those they love, that "I'd give anything for you". The trick is understanding it's not about giving everything they want, it's about giving them what they need. And not walking away and figuring out boundaries & compromise & dealing with your own emotions & accepting their downfalls & realizing that you have your own downfalls and they have to deal with them & focus on being the best you & to step back from all the emotions and clear your head. Long story short: narcissists are necessarily bad and empaths aren't necessarily good. Good luck finding peace. Hope my point of view helps someone else. All the thought put into this I just helped meyself.

Noeska Pak May 4, 2018 11:09pm

I recognize every single word. Exactly this happend. As if you wrote about a part of my life.. wow. I already find out, but this is really spot on. Thank you!

Marijt de Jong Apr 26, 2018 9:12pm

An empath can’t become a true narcissist. Sorry. This remark made me not like this article.

Ogbaje Mordecai Apr 10, 2018 12:11pm

Going through everything you wrote here, I cannot but feel shaken by your words. I feel like this article was meant for me to go through and understand. It clearly explains the condition I was in for 2 years with a narcissistic girl. Just like you pointed out, she had a very rougg childhood and I felt this passion within me to heal her from all those pains and memories. But as times went by, I came to understand that she didn't need my love, she was beyond repair and I felt drained from the relationship. I remember she used to always refer to me as a victim and I was stupid enough to believe that tag because I felt I deserved it because I always felt inadequate. A fact she never got tired of pointing out. We had a very bad ending, nearly lost life due to an injury she did inflict upon me. But now I know better. Thank you very much for this article.

Natalie Blades Apr 3, 2018 9:39am

See HG Tudor's ( his writings are very insightful, he's a narcissist.... Say no more!!

Cameron Swindle Mar 27, 2018 12:46am

You're insane.

Fernanda Coo Calcagni Mar 25, 2018 12:26pm

After that he relationship is over, and once you realised he was an empath and he destroyed you... how do you rebuilt yourself and move on? I still think about him but I’m afraid of running into him

Ivet Iveta Mar 25, 2018 11:20am

It would be great if people could stop using the term empath as a badge of honour and as a way to make themselves feel better about a situationrelationship that they found themselves in. If you end up in a relationship with a toxic person, it means that you are as sick as them. What people usually refer to, when they talk about being an empath is a full fledged codependency. And that stuff is as sick as being a narc. Narc people are trauma survivours themselves, as well as codependents. Maybe it is time to stop blaming the "bad guys", because the truth is, that as an codependent you have a host of disfunctional beliefs and behaviours entrenched in your system that actually co-created the hell you found yourself in. Responsibility is the key here.

Marie-Helene Cecchin Mar 15, 2018 4:11pm

it's a sad but clearly true situation , we empaths, have to live.. apparently.. but after that how to believe in the intentions of someone? how to stay open to other things without be afraid for the futur?

Lana Fernandes Mar 14, 2018 11:25am

The key being, the empath should realize that their role is not to ' fix' or ' rescue' anyone. Its about creating healthy boundaries, which I guess empaths are not clear about. I've seen changes, once the empath has learned the ability to create healthy boundaries and come to the realization that it is not their responsibility to take away people's pain. There's a very fine line between helping people within limits of a clear boundary and taking responsibility for their problems and feel as though its your job to sort it out. It takes a lot of internal self examination to reach that stage, but there is light at the end of the tunnel - fellow empaths.

Maritza Novoa Feb 4, 2018 1:29pm

I'm just getting out of a relationship with a narcissist this article hit my heart so deep...thank you🙏

New Wave Teresa Jan 31, 2018 11:59am

this is amazing. I have never read anything about my struggle so in depth and accurate. this obviously came from some shirty circumstances, and for that I'm so sorry. I really can't tell you how incredibly validating and important this was for me. thanks so much, keep writing!!!!❤❤

Haz Bergmann Jan 25, 2018 11:27am

What a bunch of whiney old crabs ha ha toughen the hell up people, its called testosterone or an alpha male... this generation is the dumbest yet. God knows how you feel if a real narcissistic guy dated you...what happened didn't he cook lunch? or maybe he couldnt give in to your outlandish demands.

Naomi Sophia Liabø Jan 24, 2018 7:16pm

I really appreciate this article. It feels to me to be really balanced. It's true... empaths certainly have a tendency to codependency (fixing and/or enabling) so are attracted to wounded people. I think the article only went partway into it though. Empaths want everyone to feel good. The problem is, that is an agenda and therefore can become an issue of control very quickly. I don't think the empath/narcissist lines are so black & white. I think both are wounded and operating out of a place of lack. A (codependent) empath is trying to meet a need or void within themselves by being "other" focused. The narcissist is trying to meet a need or void within themselves by being self focused. A codependent empath can oscillate between being empathetic and narcissistic. It's been my experience (on both the receiving end—which, by the way, feels really shitty, and the dishing out end—which, at the time, I had no idea/awareness of what I was doing or what was motivating me) that codependent empaths become resentful, controlling and even angry when they feel the person is not accepting their help or advice. They also slip into victim/martyr mode when they burn out and you hear, "All I do is 'give, give, give,' and nobody lifts a finger to help me or even considers how I feel," or variations on that theme. Codependents in victim mode can easily slip into narcissist mode because the victim mode is essentially about self (self-pity/feeling sorry for oneself). On BOTH sides it's a toxic cycle of looking outwardly for validation. Then when that validation isn't enough, it becomes a search for something or someone (again outside of oneself) to ease the pain of rejection, loneliness, and so on. As long as we're looking outwardly for our needs to be met, there's not much difference between a narcissist and an empath at the very core.

Bill O'Neill Nov 25, 2017 9:30pm

You have just put into words what I couldn't understand fur the past 18 months. Thank you.

Leena Patel Nov 23, 2017 5:22pm

Thank you

Leena Patel Nov 23, 2017 5:21pm

I'm understanding myself a lot better. I can clearly see now. Thank god I got out.

Jon Stone Nov 22, 2017 4:34pm

Patricia Howard "a narc is NOT empathc in any way so to say we all are in some way is simply not true." How can you possibly know this? Is there research showing that these people are missing a part of their brain? *Everybody* studies each other to learn how they should react to things. That's part of human development. And everybody, to some extent, is trying to further their own agenda. Doing this doesn't make someone incapable of empathy!

Patricia Howard Nov 22, 2017 4:15pm

Jon Stone you see thats what you keep missing here..... a narc is NOT empathc in any way so to say we all are in some way is simply not true. a narc can fake empathy even believe they are an empath because they are very percepptive to peoples reacttions to extremely detailed degrees but the reasons are far different for them....they study people to learn how they should react to things...llike what is culturally and socially acceptable responses ....they arent empaths they use their keen powers of observation to further their owe agenda and as tools with which to manipulate and mentally torture for their own sick pleasure....THAT is not empathy that is sociopathy. And there can never be anything healthy or close to normal in a relationship with one and they actively seek people who are highly empathic for their ability to forgive ....