Their attraction is magnetic, but their personality combination spells utter destruction.
Ask any empath and they’ll likely tell you they’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist at some point in their lives.
Chances are, they didn’t know it at the time. Their coupledom started so blissfully, they ignored the signs, and then suddenly, they were left holding the pieces, feeling taken advantage of, and wondering what the hell went so wrong.
The empath is the fixer of of the world. They tend to absorb others’ pain, and want to nurture and fix them – in a nutshell, they’re people pleasers. This means empaths are emotional beings, because they must live with their own emotions as well as others’. But there’s only enough room for so many feelings, so empaths push their own stuff to the side. The problem is they usually make others feel better at the expense of suppressing their own feelings.
The narcissist, on the other hand, is typically extremely charming, funny, and often super attentive…in the beginning. But that’s something they can’t sustain, because deep down they’re all about themselves. Empathy? Forget about it. They love being loved, they love being cared for, and they love looking out for number one.
Empaths and narcissists are at opposite ends of the love needs spectrum: one is a giver, and one is a taker – so why is their attraction so magnetic? Why are narcissists so drawn to the empath’s embrace? And why will it always, ALWAYS (go back and re-read that again if you’re currently in this relationship) go horribly wrong?
The relationship starts so well…
When these two meet, the sparks will fly. The empath is lured by the narcissist’s wounded soul. They want to take them up in their arms and heal them with love in a way no one has been able to love them before. The narcissist is in awe; they see in the empath everything they’re not. They don’t really do the touchy-feely emotional stuff well, and all of a sudden, here’s this person who’s making them feel ALL THE FEELINGS. Who’s telling them that they’re worthy and wonderful. Who’s loving them with everything they’ve got. It’s like a moth to an emotional flame.
The empath will be falling head over heels because they feel like they’ve made a once-in-a-lifetime connection. And it can seem like the narcissist is right there, too – they might even believe it themselves – but in reality, the narcissist is in love with the constant validation they get from the empath.
Then the cracks start to show…
But as heady as the early days are, they simply can’t survive this toxic combination. Pretty soon, the emotional high the narcissist got from their sensitive partner will wear off. Where once they admired the empath’s ability to emote, now it begins to grate on them. They begin to resent it, because it’s not something that comes naturally to them. They get frustrated because they can’t do it themselves. They start lashing out and telling the empath that they’re too sensitive or dramatic; suddenly their emotions are a flaw, not an asset.
But why the sudden about face? The narcissist loves being loved, and once he or she is all full up with the warm and fuzzies, they don’t need the empath anymore. They’ll pull away, but the empath is right there, ready to reassure them, and pick them up and feed that insatiable need for love and affection. It will seem that everything is okay again, but the cycle will repeat again. And again. And again….
The toxic fallout…
Ego is what drives the narcissist; they can’t get enough of the love and affection the empath dishes out. And its around the time things start to get settled, they begin to realize they get more affection when the empath is on the back foot, so will start to (sometimes subconsciously) manipulate the situation. This is when the relationship enters its inevitable emotionally abusive phase.
An element of control is introduced to allow the narcissist to turn the affection tap on whenever they want it. Narcissists casually drop destructive and demeaning language to keep the empath in his or her place. Sensitive people can’t just deal with being told they’re not quite enough. Their minds are telling them “Maybe if I just try a little harder, be a little more understanding, love a little harder, everything will be back to how it was.”
Tragically, that’s exactly what Miss or Mr Narcissism wants. More, more, more will never, ever, ever be enough. The egotist will keep taking, and the feeler will keep giving until they have nothing left to give. The pair are now at a devastating impasse where one of two things will happen. The first is that the narcissist will drain the empath so badly that they don’t have anything left to give, at which point the narcissist will get bored and leave the relationship. Or, the empath will realize what’s up, and find the strength to stand up and say they’re not taking it anymore. Either way, the relationship is doomed and there will be a lot of healing to be done.
So what can empaths do to avoid this?
It’s hard to avoid the charisma of the narcissist, and sometimes even hard to spot them; they’re social chameleons. They know exactly what to say and do to make you feel however they want you to feel. Sensitive souls need to be aware that they’re likely to be vulnerable, easy targets for the ego-driven. But don’t ever confuse that with being powerless.
If you’re an empath, having a strong sense of self will help you to fend off people who will take you for granted. If you know who you are and what you will and won’t accept, the narcissists of the world will have a very hard time convincing you you’re anything other than worthy of a healthy relationship.
Being in tune with others’ emotions is a gift, and you should see it as something that makes you an amazing, giving person. Trust your gut. Take time to sit alone and consult your feelings and intuition. Know the red flags. And if you do find yourself stuck in the toxic tango of an empath/narcissist pairing, have the courage to leave.
It’s not your job to fix people. You do you.
Images via shutterstock.com and giphy.com.
Comment: Have you experienced an empath/narcissist relationship? How did you deal?
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