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, would love to read the view from the opposite side if there are any narcissists that would like to offer their perception on this.

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

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 and attempt to eradicate all their pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Relephant Reads:

Traits of an Empath.


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BONUS too: 108 little things to appreciate about being single:



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.


510 Responses to “The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath & a Narcissist.”

  1. Mel says:

    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.

    • Mell says:

      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.

  2. kalangitan says:

    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.

  3. S.Lucas says:

    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.

  4. Joseph Braid says:

    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.

  5. Grateful says:

    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….

  6. Jessica says:

    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.

    • Caro says:

      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…

  7. Cmoore says:

    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.

  8. Jose says:

    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!!!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    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.

    • elephantjournal says:

      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.)

  10. ben says:

    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

  11. Freddy Bosco says:

    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”

  12. E says:

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

  13. Stephanie Wilson says:

    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.

  14. Faith says:

    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.

  15. Daya says:

    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.

  16. Marie says:

    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.

  17. Amber says:


    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!

  18. Cabra says:

    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.

  19. Dave says:

    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.

  20. nell says:

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

  21. Kevin says:

    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.

  22. CJ says:

    “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?

  23. guest says:

    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….

  24. Kim says:

    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.

  25. Mary says:

    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.

  26. we are all unique says:

    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.

  27. Kanne says:

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

  28. uzma says:

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

  29. S says:

    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.

  30. Um says:

    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.

  31. Falcon says:

    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

  32. themenopausalminimalist says:

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

  33. caseybalentine says:

    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.

  34. Victoria says:

    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!!!!

  35. Don says:

    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 🙂

  36. Anne Collini says:

    excellent and informative. thanks

  37. Erin M. says:

    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.

  38. too nice says:

    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

  39. Sheryl says:

    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.

  40. Kaz says:

    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!!

  41. Lucy says:

    Thank you so much

  42. Nicole says:

    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…

  43. JP says:

    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.

  44. Mia says:

    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.

  45. Noel says:

    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.

  46. Carol says:

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

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