The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist

The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath and A Narcissist by Alex Miles. See details below. 


A note from James Russell Lingerfelt: This is probably one of the best articles I've read that compares narcissism with empathy. One thing I'd like to add is, the ego is 1) the need to be right and 2) an attachment to the outcome. Our ego often depends on the outcome of events for our happiness. We might fail to realize that we are in complete control of our reactions – how we choose to respond. No one can make us feel anything. Our reaction is our choice.

Therefore, being blind to all this, we manipulate and fight for control so that the outcome is what we desire. If I'm a narcissist, if my ego gets in the way, I will destroy the relationships with the people in my life I love most... and I'll never have the insight to understand the fault was mine. I love this quote in the article below: "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.."


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. So, I decided to explore it further.

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 realize is that the narcissist is a taker. They do all they can to 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.

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 realize 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 recognize 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 realize.

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 to late to seek help, seek understanding and knowledge and to dig deep into one’s soul and recognize 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 behavior 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 realize they have lost their ability to control the empath. The game is no longer pleasurable if they are not having their ego constantly stroked.

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.

Read another popular post: Don’t Ever Apologize For Loving Someone – Not Ever!

This article first appeared as The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist by Alex Miles. Click on their names to follow them on the social networks! 

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8 comments

  • lisa
    lisa CT
    Wow---very enlightening. I am currently in the process of exiting a relationship with a narcissist, and it has been a real struggle for me. Even with these realizations, and having been hurt over and over, I still find myself feeling bad for the other party, and feeling guilt for leaving. However, after reading this article, I realize that gathering up the strength I have left, and walking away, is the only real solution. I'm looking forward to moving on!! Thanks for the empowerment

    Wow---very enlightening. I am currently in the process of exiting a relationship with a narcissist, and it has been a real struggle for me. Even with these realizations, and having been hurt over and over, I still find myself feeling bad for the other party, and feeling guilt for leaving. However, after reading this article, I realize that gathering up the strength I have left, and walking away, is the only real solution. I'm looking forward to moving on!! Thanks for the empowerment

  • Kamal
    Kamal
    A true insight of an empathy and narcissists behaviour. It never improves but get worse as time goes on. I can definitely voche for that behavior having lived in that toxic I environment for a long time.

    A true insight of an empathy and narcissists behaviour. It never improves but get worse as time goes on. I can definitely voche for that behavior having lived in that toxic I environment for a long time.

  • Keith
    Keith NJ
    This article resonates with me, I hope though that the readers understand that before one diagnoses themselves as a empath they look good and hard at the mirror as the true empath should have a mature way of thinking as empathy isn't an intermittent behavior and would govern most of the actions except as Alex apparently mentions where they become narcissistic themselves. I feel like some others who say, most of the narcissists out there are single till later years in their life, have no dependents and ooze self proclaimed greatness and criticism all day long. All I can say is careful who diagnoses who.

    This article resonates with me, I hope though that the readers understand that before one diagnoses themselves as a empath they look good and hard at the mirror as the true empath should have a mature way of thinking as empathy isn't an intermittent behavior and would govern most of the actions except as Alex apparently mentions where they become narcissistic themselves. I feel like some others who say, most of the narcissists out there are single till later years in their life, have no dependents and ooze self proclaimed greatness and criticism all day long. All I can say is careful who diagnoses who.

  • Debra
    Debra Ky
    Wow, you have hit the nail on the head. One year ago I left my 20 year marriage. I did not realize I was married to a Narcissist until my Therapist pointed it out. Long story short...I married my mother. I was raised by a Narcissist Mother and you have probably already figured it out... I am not the Golden Child (that would be my brother). Russell James, Thank You for your research, articles and post. You have no idea how you have helped me through this past year and grieving the "death of a dream." Through this horrible process, I have learned so much but the most important thing I have learned is learning to love myself and setting boundaries....two important things needed in order to move on and be happy. God Bless You

    Wow, you have hit the nail on the head. One year ago I left my 20 year marriage. I did not realize I was married to a Narcissist until my Therapist pointed it out. Long story short...I married my mother. I was raised by a Narcissist Mother and you have probably already figured it out... I am not the Golden Child (that would be my brother).

    Russell James, Thank You for your research, articles and post. You have no idea how you have helped me through this past year and grieving the "death of a dream." Through this horrible process, I have learned so much but the most important thing I have learned is learning to love myself and setting boundaries....two important things needed in order to move on and be happy. God Bless You

  • Tammy
    Tammy Kennewick
    Unfortunately, I have had the "pleasure" of being in the situation twice in the last 10 years. Being an empath, I did not realize the type of person I was caught up with until it was too late. I wish I had recognized the symptoms much sooner and been willing to acknowledge the situation for what it was but in the end the first relationship was extremely emotionally costly to me and the second one was both emotionally and financially impacting.

    Unfortunately, I have had the "pleasure" of being in the situation twice in the last 10 years. Being an empath, I did not realize the type of person I was caught up with until it was too late. I wish I had recognized the symptoms much sooner and been willing to acknowledge the situation for what it was but in the end the first relationship was extremely emotionally costly to me and the second one was both emotionally and financially impacting.

  • Teresa
    Teresa Virginia
    I am struggling now with healing from this kind of relationship. I m also an empath and you are so right. I feel like I lost myself and am angry with myself for allowing this to happen to me. Even after being so deeply wounded I still love him. I know we can no longer be together and I want to make sure this doesn't happen to me again. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me so much to better understand what happened to me.

    I am struggling now with healing from this kind of relationship. I m also an empath and you are so right. I feel like I lost myself and am angry with myself for allowing this to happen to me. Even after being so deeply wounded I still love him. I know we can no longer be together and I want to make sure this doesn't happen to me again. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me so much to better understand what happened to me.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia Alabama
    This is spot on. Had I known 17 years ago what I finally realize today things would be very different for me. I am a strong woman who thought I could help him be a better man. Only, he didn’t want to be. I am so thankful that the Lord opened my eyes to what I was really living in and allowed me the mindset to get myself and my kids out before something tragic happened. Life with a narcissist doesn’t get better. It only gets worse.

    This is spot on. Had I known 17 years ago what I finally realize today things would be very different for me. I am a strong woman who thought I could help him be a better man. Only, he didn’t want to be. I am so thankful that the Lord opened my eyes to what I was really living in and allowed me the mindset to get myself and my kids out before something tragic happened. Life with a narcissist doesn’t get better. It only gets worse.

  • jamesrussell.org
    jamesrussell.org
    Thank you Cynthia, for your thoughts. I've heard that story a lot. You're not alone.

    Thank you Cynthia, for your thoughts. I've heard that story a lot. You're not alone.

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