Toxic Attraction Between an Empath & a Narcissist

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 identify as an empath, and time and again I have heard people tell me how they have also attracted relationships with narcissists. There is a link. So, I decided to explore it further.

This is my theory…

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

Something, somewhere along the line, usually stemming from childhood, to go to great lengths to receive constant validation, as a way of reaffirming their self-worth.

Here comes the empath, the healer.

An empath has the ability to sense and absorb other people’s emotions and often takes them on as though they 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 perceived damage while attempting to eradicate all their pain and suffering.

What the empath fails to realise is that the narcissist is a taker and, usually, they are not looking to be healed. They are energy suckers – vampires 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 energy 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 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.

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Writing: Alex Myles

Main Photo:   Shutterstock (with licence)  

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  1. Melanie Bolton says:

    Spot on article

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was married to a narcissist woman for more than 25years and this rings loud and clear for me !!! I’m on antidepressants, struggle with daily life often and can not socialize or be around people for a long period of time !!
    I’ve been scarred and traumatized!!!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Wow that was my life! I had never dealt with a narcissist so I was confused by the behavior but stuck with it because he was “damaged from a bad marriage”. I learned that a narcissist does mot change mo matter how much they tell you otherwise. Thank you for this article. Most people wouldn’t understand why we empaths do what we do for other people.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This article is SPOT ON!😢

  5. Anonymous says:

    Good read. Described the last 10 years of my life. Its been 3 years and I’m still not over it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very difficult for a narcissist to give their two cents on this since it would unmask them. Also, I recently realised that this dynamic can be as addictive for an empath as cocaine or sugar. Know your worth, leave this abuse behind.

    1. Anonymous says:

      💯 the change in me after 17 was so sad. Depleted to my core. I have been away from my Narc foe 2 years and these insights help me move on. Dangerous people for anyone to be around but Empaths especially.

  7. Anonymous says:

    One of the best articles I’ve read on this subject I am the empath in a 15 year marriage with my narc. It has only been in the last 5 years I have learned what both personalities are.

  8. I loved this article! Thank you, so much, for sharing!
    Coming to terms with being an empath in a very destructive relationship, and recovering from it, took me years.
    Simply, I would be shocked if a narcissist had the ability to write, from their perspective, on this subject and be realistic and honest about themself. After all, the narcissist doesn’t know that’s what they are.

    1. A narcissist knows they are a narcissist, but they would rather be skinned alive under a shower of pure lemon juice than admit that they are what they are

  9. Anonymous says:

    Very educational and rewarding read.

  10. This spoke to my heart and to the pain I’ve experienced in trying to understand how the narcissist in my life could just forget about me so easily. This opened my eyes! Thank you!

  11. Thank you sooo much for your writing and insight. I’m at the ‘beginning of the end’ of this exact situation. It’s extremely hard to accept that it’s over and for good. I feel lost and trying to figure out why he changed on me. But I believe this is his true self, not the person I met when things were good. For anyone else going through this, I send love, strength, and light energy 💗

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is very helpful. Thank you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this article it has opened my eyes to my patterns of getting involved when I should not have… wow I am blown away right now. Will re/read this again to let it sink in. 💗

  14. Melanie says:

    I really appreciate this article and agree with your theory. I am an empath and have only recently identified that both my parents are narcissistic. It has been hard to disconnect from them very painful and sad. Not sure what is next but day by day I get up and keep going. MW

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m in the thick of this right now, been trying to cut the ties from a narc for a year… I keep getting sucked back in.. I hate it.

    1. Connie says:

      Me too.

    2. Robyn A. ( McGee) Weaver says:

      Wow I get it 100%……I just walked away from a 31yr narrsacist and i miss him but it’s TRUE they dont live anyone but themselves

  16. Anonymous says:

    I just left a narcissistic relationship 6 months ago. I am so grateful I kicked his stupid ass out. Growing up with narcissistic parents didn’t help any. As an empath I have learned to set boundaries dries and say no. Thank you for this article, for I to have a story to tell.

  17. Donna Ibrahim says:

    You just described my last 5 year relationship to a T! After losing my friend/sister to cancer which was his sister. The week after he told me he hated me and couldn’t stand looking at me and to get out. I was distraught and still very hurt and confused. I left this very same evening not knowing where I was to go. The next day He text me to make sure I get my things and he was changing the lock on the door!
    I’m still hurt and confused as to why he has said and done this. I understand grief and grieving I am a caregiver. I was honored and blessed to have been able to be by my friend/sister Carolyn in her journey. My prayers continue for him and this is all I can do .
    I exhausted myself and have been picking myself up since the day I left. Thank you to friends and family. And my faith in God.


  18. Anonymous says:

    It was a very very hard thing for me to go through. I was the empathy him the narcissist. He always turned things around and made it my fault. He’d say I was crazy, mentally unstable a bitch no one would ever want me..
    I finally came full circle and left but sadly it was due to him having an affair. He’s manipulated his whole family into believing I’m no good and messed up. Sad because I always got along so well with them. He’s alone now but that’s ok.

    1. Robyn A. ( McGee) Weaver says:

      Awwh I’m so sorry and I completely get what ur saying ..I am an empath and 8 see people in colors funny I never noticed my best friend of 31yrs was really my enemy and he also cheated

  19. Thank you. I desperately needed to read this today.

  20. Anonymous says:

    How does one walk away when there is so much love?

    1. Anonymous says:

      There is no love. It’s a smoke screen. It’s all bullshit. You just have to choose to believe it. Otherwise, you learn the hard way that they don’t love you. They love and admire themselves…not you. They need you to love and be desperate for them.

      1. Lucy Panasiuk says:

        Extremely true. The article is excèllent. Spot on. Yes I have been in one too. Although we lived together 5 years and had a child, then I asked my ex to leave, now another 8 years later, he still wants a connection with me. Difficult when a child involved. Xxxx

  21. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been in a 21-year relationship with a narcissist and I’ve recently realized how desperately I need to get out. I saw the signs many many times I saw the red flags and turned the other cheek. Thinking if I could just love this guy enough and do enough for this guy he could not help but love me. His mission is not love it is only control and manipulation. It will never change I’ve got to go😭

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this article it spoke volumes to me. I have been dealing with a narcissist for a few months now and I found myself trying to ‘fix’ his pain. From constantly being there for his emotional baggage. Narcissistic seek out people that seem weak and desperate and attach themselves. No more taking on other people problems. I was so desperate I ask if I could love him and gave him all the control.
    Healing myself one day at a time and thanking myself for not staying longer. Love from within is the key 🔑

  23. Denise says:

    I have bookmarked this article and cannot wait to read it because that is me, an empath who married a narcissist. I’m still trying to recover but even I know I’m not in a place today to read this. Thank you. Debbie, they don’t change, if you think you need to get out, then please do, for your own sake. I didn’t make that decision until just before my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but I am free now and trying hard to put myself back together.

  24. Thelma Blue says:

    Excellent article.
    I finally realized the sickness of the situation I lived with, about 4 years ago. 40 years, the last 14 unbearable –
    When the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving, you will know it’s time to go.
    You’re stronger than you think.
    Save yourself.
    A thousand pound weight is off my chest and I can finally breathe again.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Oh how true. Hopefully this will stick with me! But how can an empath deal with this in a work environment where the goal in their mind is to be a team player and yet you know people are using you to step on to make themselves feel better about them? This is a delima in the work place that we all deal with.

  26. Trish says:

    Narcissistic people know exactly what they are doing

  27. Robin says:

    Absolutely 100% #TRUTH
    I am an empath and was married to a narcissist for 31 years…I can honestly say, I saw myself and the toxicity of that relationship in every word! Giddy with excitement in the beginning, relentlessly trying to “fix” things during the main event, and finally gathering all the strength I could muster to crawl out of the downward spiraled hole I found myself in!

  28. I’ve been married to one for over 30 years

  29. Robyn A. ( McGee) Weaver says:

    I’m 43 yrs old and an super sensitive empath I see people in colors but it’s crazy cause my best friend and love of my life for 30 yrs is a narcissist and I finally got the energy to walk away once and for all and let him go he was suffocating me and turned out to be the enemy all along…..why is it empaths always end up w narcissists??

  30. Jennifer says:

    I am an empath and at work a woman I’ll call Terry, befriended me soon after she started working there. If you were talking to someone all of the sudden there she was intervening into the conversation. She was always seeking out the boss to tell her someone should fired. One of the women was suffering from cancer and gone a lot and Terry kept telling the boss she needed to let her go!! One day I went over to speak to Terry and she yelled “I don’t know what you want from me” and she proceeded to turn me into HR. It took nearly 2 months for a conclusion to the situation and I was vindicated, in a sense! I want nothing to do with this woman, but she still comes by my desk! She emailed me wanting me to bring a gift back to her and went on to say that she doesn’t know what she did wrong. Keep in mind that she told me she turned me in and then she told me that our boss did it. She is now pissed because I won’t interact with her. She is the definition of a narcissist

  31. Jean Clemson says:

    Thank you❣️ Completely represented my life of the past 25 years….

  32. Anonymous says:

    I am newly discovering why I’ve always been so different and always alone. I need someone to reach for me. I’m lost and not ok. I cannot heal myself anymore. I’m skipping through the cracks and being left behind. Please someone. I just want to be held and loved.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I also was in this for a 3 yr relationship/fiance. I’m still confused but I think this article hits it dead on. Also I think all my relationships were narcissistic too! Crazy. I would like to find out if there’s a way to prevent them from becoming narcissistic, but maybe it’s like a disease like the article said, spiriling onto the empath, turning them into a Narc too due to how hurt they are. 😮

  34. Anonymous says:

    Oh gosh i fell into this trap also .broke me so much . Ie lost all my confidence and mor not the same person andy more bubbley full of fun . Knocke dthe stuffing out of me big style 2yrs ago .and met soem one else n he wasj ust as bad

  35. Anonymous says:

    This hits very close to home. I’m on yr 15 with a narc. It’s a cycle of chaos. Highs & lows. My bar is so low on good it doesn’t take much to make me content but him… nothing is good enough. It’s crazy how I feel like I can see myself in this relationship and want to scream get out. The mean & hurtful things said for so many years has built up to so much resentment & hurt. I’ve become complacent in the marriage to just stop fighting. I don’t like this version of me…
    This & the many comments helped me realize this cycle does not stop & it does not change or get better. I feel like I should have left years ago but bc we have a child, I wanted desperately for the relationship to work. I’ve been holding up a sinking ship & I’m emotionally exhausted.

  36. Anonymous says:

    20 year marriage, never totally understood the dynamics. Been divorced now for 7. It’s taken me all 7 years to start to begin feeling myself. When your behavior towards them changes and they see it they either turn on the charm to reel you back closer or gaslight you to make you unstable. They have a need to control what you think of them at all costs. They do not change.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this article. It sums up a work relationship I had, that made me crazy depressed and feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, not good enough! The narcissist plays games that I cannot.
    Still working on myself and how I ever fell for the unhealthy relationship in the first place.

  38. Lesley Thomas says:

    I’ve just realized, after 32 years, I am married to an insecure narcissist. He can be very nice and generous, when he wants to. Well, in the past I have blamed myself, and thought I must’ve done something to warrant his criticism. He never asks about work, my day, but will go on about his job, his day. I have learned that I have to stand up for myself, and he backs down. Oh,well, whats another twenty!?!

  39. I’ve done extensive research on narcissists (having dealt with far too many of them throughout my life~!)… They “purposefully” seek out empaths! They’ve never learned to heal and hold their own, so they seek fuel to perpetuate the lie they have of themselves, to keep this illusional pathological lie alive! One of many reasons most of them specifically seek out empaths, is because they know empaths won’t retaliate… Therefore, they are safe to target! Learn to decipher their energy, then don’t make excuses for them, or try and “heal” them! If the energy feels “off” run, period! Flip the script of what you want in your life, “a partner, “not” a project!”. Become that what you seek, allowing the Universe to bring that like attraction to you! If someone says they need your help, then ask, “Are you ready to let go of what injured you to begin with?” A true healer, helps others who are willing to help themselves! We spark inspiration, they do the work! Don’t get caught in the “story”, instead focus on possibilities available towards resolutions… If a repetitive gerbil wheel scenario happens, get off! If they won’t do the work, leave! Learn the difference between authenticity and sales pitching! Be open to those who will appreciate your gift, not feed on it! As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.” Be the love you’ve always been (and are now!) and you’re never alone! True love gives and receives, “not” takes… Know the difference! Breathe, the Divine is always “within” you! Namaste…

  40. This article was spot on for me as well as the other commenters. 30+ years total (there was a 10 yr break when I divorced him, but then got back with him believing he had changed. Long story!) After years of unimaginable chaos, confusion and pain I left for the last time. Unfortunately it has been bittersweet in that I’m free from him but my health took a toll over those years so life is a struggle in a different way. Still, I prefer my mental freedom.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t see that my Husband was a narcissist until almost literally the day we were married. He constantly needs his ego stroked. He goes after the compliments . If someone comments about my job. (Which is my calling but I dont brag about it). He will literally bring up the fact that he works in Healthcare too ( he’s in matainence).
    Im just really unsure of how to handle it. I quit coddling him. I know he hates it. But he’s not my child. I know he was babied by his mother and still is.
    We’ve been married for 3 years. I dont want to divorce. I’m 49 hes 50. Any advice?

  42. Anonymous says:

    I wish I knew about this a long time ago. I am an empath but have been in victim mode for so long now after being gaslighted that I have been mirroring a narcissist s behavior.

  43. Very much describes my former marriage of 20 years. I’ve spent 10 years on my own regaining my self worth and am now in a relationship with another empath❤

  44. Anonymous.. says:

    100% correct.Thanks very much for the article

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