The Empath and Narcissist Relationship Explained

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 4, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Are you curious about the dynamics of an empath and narcissist relationship?

This type of relationship is often described as one-sided, with the narcissist taking everything from the empath and the empath willingly giving everything up for the narcissist.

It can be a toxic and emotionally draining situation for the empath, who may feel trapped and unable to leave.

The relationship between an empath and a narcissist is complex, and it’s essential to understand the characteristics of both parties.

A narcissist is a person who has an inflated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy for others. They often seek admiration and attention from others and will go to great lengths to maintain their image of superiority.

On the other hand, an empath is a person who is highly sensitive and attuned to the emotions of others. They often put the needs of others before their own and have a strong desire to help and heal those around them.

In this article, we’ll explore the different stages of an empath and narcissist relationship, as well as the characteristics of both parties and how they interact with each other.

Narcissist Personality Traits

Narcissism is characterized by grandiose self-importance, a need for admiration, and the inability to empathize with others. It is important to note that not all individuals with narcissistic traits have a full-blown personality disorder, and these traits exist on a spectrum.

One of the traits associated with narcissistic personality disorder is a lack of empathy. Narcissists struggle to understand and connect with the emotions of others, often viewing them as inferior or unimportant.

Narcissists often have an inflated sense of self-importance, believing they are superior to others and deserve special treatment. They may constantly need admiration and attention, seeking out praise and validation from others to bolster their fragile self-esteem.

In addition, narcissists may engage in manipulative or exploitative behavior to get what they want. They may use others for their own gain and have little regard for the feelings or well-being of those around them.

Empath Personality Traits

As an empath, you possess unique traits that set you apart from others. Your strong sense of empathy allows you to feel and understand the emotions of those around you, often to the point of absorbing them as your own.

This ability to connect with others on an emotional level makes you a valuable asset in any relationship, but it can also leave you vulnerable to the manipulations of a narcissist.

However, your emotional intelligence and ability to recognize the needs of others can also help you identify a narcissist early on and avoid falling into their trap.

Your unconditional love and desire for harmony in relationships can sometimes lead you to overlook red flags in a potential partner. It’s important to remember that not everyone has your best interests at heart and it’s okay to focus on your own needs and well-being in a relationship.

Overall, as an empath, your traits can be both a blessing and a curse in a relationship with a narcissist. It’s important to recognize and appreciate your unique qualities while also being aware of the potential dangers of being in a one-sided relationship.

The Attraction Between Narcissists and Empaths

It’s not uncommon for narcissists and empaths to be drawn to each other.

The empath is often caring, compassionate, and has a strong desire to help others. On the other hand, the narcissist is often charming and confident and knows how to manipulate others to get what they want.

This combination can be quite attractive to both parties.

Narcissists are often attracted to empaths because they provide constant attention and validation.

Empaths are typically very forgiving and understanding, which can be appealing to someone with a narcissistic personality.

Empaths, on the other hand, are often attracted to narcissists because they see the good in people and want to help them. They may also be drawn to the confidence and charisma that narcissists often possess.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a one-sided relationship where the empath constantly gives, and the narcissist continually takes.

It’s important to note that not all empaths are attracted to narcissists, and not all narcissists are attracted to empaths. However, the dynamic between these two personality types can be quite common and can lead to a toxic relationship.

The Narcissist’s Manipulative Tactics

When it comes to the empath and narcissist relationship, it is important to understand narcissists' manipulative tactics. Here are a few examples of these tactics:

  • Gaslighting: This is a common tactic used by narcissists to make you doubt your own perceptions and memories. They may try to convince you that something you remember happening never actually occurred or that you are overreacting to a situation.
  • Love bombing: At the beginning of a relationship, a narcissist may shower you with gifts, compliments, and attention. This is known as love bombing, and it is a way for them to quickly gain your trust and affection.
  • Lying: Narcissists are often skilled liars who may tell you elaborate stories to gain sympathy or manipulate you into doing what they want. They may also lie about their past, accomplishments, or feelings.
  • Winning: Narcissists often see relationships as competition and will do whatever it takes to come out on top. They may try to win arguments by using aggressive or manipulative tactics, or they may try to make you feel inferior so that they can feel superior.

Effects on the Empath

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can significantly impact the empath’s well-being. The empath’s natural tendency to feel and absorb the emotions of others can make them vulnerable to emotional abuse and manipulation by the narcissist.

Abuse is one of the most common effects of a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists often use emotional and psychological abuse tactics to control and manipulate their partners. As an empath, you may internalize these abusive behaviors and blame yourself for the problems in the relationship.

The constant emotional turmoil of being in a narcissistic relationship can lead to depression and anxiety.

You may feel like you are walking on eggshells around the narcissist, never knowing when they will lash out or become angry.

This constant state of stress can take an impact on your mental health and lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Your self-esteem may also suffer as a result of being in a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists often belittle and criticize their partners, leaving them feeling inadequate and unworthy.

As an empath, you may take these criticisms to heart and struggle with feelings of low self-worth.

In some cases, being in a relationship with a narcissist can even lead to a crisis. The constant emotional abuse and manipulation can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope.

If you are in crisis, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional or crisis hotline.

How to Know if You Are in a Toxic Relationship

Recognizing when a relationship has become toxic can be difficult, especially when you are an empath.

You may find yourself constantly making excuses for your partner’s behavior or trying to justify their actions. However, it’s important to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship before it’s too late.

One of the most common signs of a toxic relationship is inconsistency. Your partner may be loving and affectionate one moment and then distant and cold the next.

This can be confusing and emotionally draining, leaving you feeling unsure of where you stand in the relationship.

Criticism is another red flag in a toxic relationship. Your partner may constantly criticize you, belittle you, or make you feel like you’re not good enough. When this happens, it can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and self-doubt, making leaving the relationship difficult.

If you’re unsure whether your relationship is toxic, try giving yourself a “green light” test. Ask yourself if you would be happy if your best friend was in the same relationship. If the answer is no, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship and consider seeking help.

Therapeutic Approaches

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, therapy can help you understand your situation better and learn how to manage your emotions. If you are a narcissist seeking therapy, you can learn how to manage your behavior and improve your relationships with others.

There are several therapeutic approaches that can be used to address the issues that arise in the empath-narcissist relationship. Some of these approaches include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The goal of CBT is to change negative thought patterns and behaviors. In the context of the empath-narcissist relationship, CBT can help the empath recognize and challenge their beliefs about their role in the relationship and help the narcissist learn to recognize and change their negative behaviors.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

In DBT, individuals are taught how to regulate their emotions and improve their interpersonal relationships. In the context of the empath-narcissist relationship, DBT can help the empath learn how to manage their emotions set boundaries, and help the narcissist learn how to regulate their emotions and improve their communication skills.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on exploring unconscious patterns of behavior and thought. In the context of the empath-narcissist relationship, psychodynamic therapy can help both the empath and the narcissist understand the underlying reasons for their behaviors and emotions and learn how to change them.

Family Therapy

During family therapy, communication and relationships within the family are improved. In the context of the empath-narcissist relationship, family therapy can help both the empath and the narcissist understand how their behaviors affect their family members and learn how to communicate more effectively.

Protecting Yourself in a Narcissist and Empath Relationship

Navigating a relationship with a narcissist can be challenging for an empath. They tend to manipulate and exploit others for their own gain, often disregarding the well-being of their partners. As an empath, it’s important to protect yourself and establish healthy boundaries in the relationship.

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself in a narcissist and empath relationship:

  • Recognize the signs of narcissistic behavior: Educate yourself on the signs of narcissistic behavior, such as a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, and a tendency to exploit others. This can help you identify red flags early on in the relationship.
  • Set firm boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and communicate them to your partner. This can include limits on how you are treated, what behaviors are acceptable, and what you are willing to tolerate.
  • Practice self-care: Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This can involve exercise, meditation, therapy, and spending time with supportive friends and family.
  • Stay mindful: Be aware of your own emotions and reactions in the relationship. This can help you identify when you are being manipulated or mistreated by your partner.
  • Trust your intuition: If something feels off in the relationship, trust your gut instinct. Don’t dismiss your own feelings or let your partner gaslight you into thinking you are overreacting.
  • Don’t feed the supply: Narcissists thrive on attention and validation. Don’t engage in behaviors that feed their ego or reinforce their sense of superiority.
  • Validate your emotions: It’s important to acknowledge and validate your own emotions, even if your partner is dismissive or unsupportive. Seek out validation from trusted friends or a therapist if necessary.
  • Surround yourself with positive relationships: Cultivate relationships with supportive, empathetic, and respectful people. This can help counterbalance the adverse effects of a toxic relationship.
  • Practice radical honesty: Be honest with yourself and your feelings and needs in the relationship. Don’t compromise your own values or beliefs to appease your partner.

Protecting yourself in a narcissist and empath relationship can be challenging but essential for your well-being. By establishing healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, and surrounding yourself with positive relationships, you can minimize the negative impact of a toxic relationship.

What is Codependency?

In a relationship between an empath and a narcissist, codependency is a familiar dynamic. Codependency is a pattern of behavior in which one person excessively relies on another to meet their emotional and physical needs.

This behavior is often seen in relationships where one partner has a narcissistic personality disorder, and the other partner is an empath.

Codependent behavior can be hard to recognize, but some signs include:

  • Putting your partner’s needs before your own
  • Sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of the relationship
  • Feeling responsible for your partner’s emotions
  • Feeling guilty when you do something for yourself
  • Having a hard time saying no to your partner

Codependent behavior can be damaging to both partners in the relationship. The codependent partner may feel trapped, resentful, and unable to break free from the relationship. The narcissistic partner may feel a sense of power and control over their partner, but ultimately, they may feel unfulfilled and empty.

Breaking free from a codependent partnership can be challenging, but it is possible. It’s essential to recognize the signs of codependency and to seek help from a therapist or support group. With time and effort, you can learn to set healthy boundaries, prioritize your needs, and build a fulfilling life outside the relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a relationship between an empath and a narcissist work?

In theory, any relationship can work if both parties are willing to put in the effort and work through their issues. However, the relationship between an empath and a narcissist is inherently imbalanced and can be emotionally draining for the empath. It is important to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship and prioritize your own well-being.

Why do narcissists seem to be obsessed with empaths?

Narcissists are drawn to empaths because they see them as a source of validation and admiration. Empaths are typically compassionate, caring individuals willing to put others' needs before their own, which can appeal to a narcissist. However, this dynamic can quickly become unhealthy and one-sided.

How can an empath break up with a narcissist?

Getting out of a relationship with a narcissist can be challenging, as they may try to manipulate or guilt-trip you into staying. It is important to prioritize your own well-being and set clear boundaries. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if necessary. It may also be helpful to cut off contact with the narcissist and focus on your own healing.

What are some books that explain the empath and narcissist relationship?

There are many books available that explore the dynamics of the empath and narcissist relationship. Some popular titles include “The Empath’s Survival Guide” by Judith Orloff, “Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare” by Shahida Arabi, and “The Human Magnet Syndrome” by Ross Rosenberg.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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