Narcissist and Empath Dynamic
By Keen Editorial Staff

A healthy relationship whether a romantic relationship, friendship, family, or even work relationship is one where both parties feel safe to express their needs and have those needs be respected by the other. This is not the case in a narcissist and empath dynamic. The two meet each other from opposite ends of the spectrum where one (the narcissist) finds pleasure in being loved and admired, and the other (the empath) derives pleasure from helping others feel loved and admired. It’s a common pattern in many relationships and being labeled as either does not necessarily mean you are inherently that way as we can all exhibit narcissistic and empathic traits at various points in our lives.

What is a Narcissist?

A narcissist has an elated feeling of worth over others, believing they are more special and more deserving. They tend to lack empathy, enjoy being admired by others, and engage in grandiose thinking. This is the mask they wear to cover up their insecurities and fears of abandonment and rejection. Narcissistic traits can emerge from childhood wounds or even breakups later in life where their partner may have betrayed their trust.

What is an Empath?

An empath is highly attuned to the emotions of others and tends to prioritize the needs of others over their own. Typically operating in extreme compassion, the empath can absorb the emotions of others in an attempt to make others feel better. They find joy in helping others, but this often comes at an expense to themselves as most empaths lack strong boundaries.

Empathic traits can come from deep feelings of unworthiness and rejection experienced in childhood or later in life that have lead the person to feel they have to work extra hard to be seen and loved.

The Narcissist and Empath Relationship

The narcissist and empath relationship is one-sided; one person gives and the other takes as much as they can. Often, the narcissist will have a hard time admitting blame as they struggle with accessing empathy to see another person’s side of things. On the other hand, the empath will constantly blame themselves for the dynamic because they struggle with feeling good enough.

Both are equally responsible for creating this painful, unbalanced relationship as both actively play a part in enabling it. The empath wants to love and support their partner, so they give, often beyond their own boundaries, to the narcissist who enjoys the attention. The empath’s desire to heal the narcissist and the narcissist’s desire to be seen and loved can lead them into a codependent relationship where both are seeking validation from the other. 

The Narcissist and Empath Breakup

The relationship for the empath will be an extremely painful one. When they finally work up the courage to leave this will send a blow to the narcissist’s ego. The problem is that empaths love very deeply and genuinely believe people can change for the better. So, there is a part of them that feels like they have failed their partner when they eventually walk away and put themselves first. 

The narcissist may continue to reach out to the empath in an attempt to receive more of their energy or they may immediately find a new partner to supply them with that attention and giving energy.

What a narcissist and empath dynamic hopefully teaches the empath is how to develop stronger boundaries and not be over-giving.

What it hopefully teaches the narcissist is the importance of giving back to the people that love them.

Can You Be an Empath and Narcissist?

They are essentially total opposites on the spectrum. Having said that, both are trying to access love externally (from one another) rather than internally and from a place of unconditional love. If you are looking for someone to love and validate you, then you are essentially operating in egoic traits, and both need to let go of the belief that someone can provide happiness to them and work on cultivating it within themselves.

If you find yourself caught in a narcissist and empath dynamic, try not to be resentful of the connection. It’s a lesson for you to become aware of the ways in which you may over-give and where you need to develop stronger boundaries with others. Remember, no one can love you as deeply as you love yourself and you should never have to bend over backwards to prove your worth to someone. The right person will treat you right without you trying and that right person can only enter your life when you start treating yourself well. Although it’s hard, choosing yourself and walking away from one-sided connections is the ultimate act of self-love. Be strong. You deserve to be loved the way you love.

Keen Editorial Staff
Keen's Editorial Staff is made up of world-class writers, astrologers, psychics, and advisors with diverse experience and spiritual sensitivity. 

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