The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist

The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath & a Narcissist by
Alex Myles

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 on 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. 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 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 realise is that the narcissist is a taker. An energy sucker, a vampire 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 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. Before long, an extremely vicious circle has begun to swirl.

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 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 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 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 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 recognise 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 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 narcissists heart is closed, an empath’s is open—it is nothing short of a recipe for a huge disaster, and not a beautiful one.

Author: Alex Myles

About Alex Myles

Alex MylesAlex Myles is qualified as a Yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Teacher of Tibetan Meditation, Dragon Magic and a Spiritual coach to name just a few. Alex has no intention to teach others on a formal basis for many years to come, instead, she is collecting qualifications along with life’s lessons. One day, when the time is right, Alex will set up a quaint studio, in a quirky crooked building where she will breathe and appreciate the slowness of those days as life is just way too busy right now! Reading and writing has always been one of Alex’s passions. Alex likes to consider herself as a free spirit rather than a commitment-phobe. Trying to live as aligned to a Buddhist lifestyle as is possible in this day and age, she just does not believe in ‘owning’ anything or anyone. Based on the theory that we ‘cannot lose someone that was not ours to lose’ she flails through life finding joy and magic in the most unexpected places. Mother to a 21 year old daughter and three adorable pups, she appreciates that some of the best moments in life are the 6am forest walks watching the dogs run, play and interact with one another and with nature. Connect with her on Facebook and check out her blog, Love and Madness.

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Meet Me There

tropical-island-beach-photos-956x470Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. – Rumi

About a year ago, at a workshop on love, consciousness and tantric philosophy, I was introduced to a personally revolutionary idea: That boundaries are about where we meet, not places we need to defend. This was big to me because I had been told I needed to establish better boundaries, hold my boundaries, etc.  While that advice was helpful, the context of a place where we meet instead of a place to defend made boundaries a loving thing.

“Love can’t exist without boundaries, even with your children. It’s easy to understand external boundaries as your bottom line. Think of rules and principles you live by when you say what you will or won’t do or allow.” – What are personal boundaries? Often, when I consider boundaries, it feels like something I should have done and didn’t – so I am some how to blame. I have learned that my anger is triggered most often when my boundaries are not respected.  So I feel like I need to know what my boundaries are so I can set relationships up for success.  But how do you do that? It seems like a vicious circle: I know my boundaries when they are violated.

“Anger often is a signal that action is required. If you feel resentful or victimized and are blaming someone or something, it might mean that you haven’t been setting boundaries. If you feel anxious or guilty about setting boundaries, remember, your relationship suffers when you’re unhappy. Once you get practice setting boundaries, you feel empowered and suffer less anxiety, resentment, and guilt. Generally, you receive more respect from others and your relationships improve.”-What are personal boundaries?

The simple reframe of where am I willing to meet others feels less like I am wrong, and more like I am acting from my space of awareness.  I can think of ways in which that is true of me.  For example, I know that each individual holds a different world view, and the places in which we share it, we will usually connect.  I remember being in the elevator with a woman on pay day at work.  For simple chit chat, she noted that pay day Fridays were good days.  I agreed, and began thinking of how great having a regular pay check is, and how much gratitude I have to my financial freedom. When I turned towards the woman to make a comment about that, she spoke first and said, “Of course, it is all spent before I get it.  There is never enough.”  I shut up, and felt a number of things.  I felt bad for her.  I felt guilty that I make enough money.  I felt afraid that maybe I don’t really make enough money and I am too poor a financial manager to know it.

When I look back, I see that this is about boundaries, and it is also about our personal story.  I have done enough of Byron Katie’s The Work that I can now unravel all those feelings that arose.  They simply don’t arise that way for me now.  The way I view the boundary component is that I simply could not meet that woman from where she was at.  I could see it.  I can respect it as her story.  But I cannot relate to her there. I cannot meet her there.

How many times have I let go of where I am at to meet another? How often have I based my relationship on how well I could meet another where he was at? The answer is I very rarely based a romantic relationship on meeting me where I was at.  I also then put the condition on the other that since I had bent over so far to meet them in their world, they should therefore be grateful and be committed to me. I want to vomit when I lean in to the energy of that dynamic.

Every time I release a layer of ego, and can see it happening, I have an unparalleled joy arise in me. I see the divine movement, the loving consciousness gently shifting me towards living from love and joy all the time.  And I am meeting Me there, too.

This Is What Happened When You Broke My Heart

By Alex Miles , reprinted in Elephant Journal

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Memories, I have few.

I like it that way, for it is better not to think or to feel, and I most definitely don’t imagine.

I do not think it was planned and please, I pray, it was never intended.

I like to believe that it was just circumstance and bad timing and a mixed up, twisted round, wrongly fused connection.

Which burned out.

I knew it wouldn’t last, deep within, I remember the doubts that were there all along.

But, I ignored them and buried them and hoped, I so badly hoped that our wires would tangle and knot and become one that could withstand the heat.

Though, it was never to be.

You loved me, I am sure of that, but you couldn’t stay to see the damage—you thought only of you.

You never witnessed the tears so damned hot they scalded and left scars down my cheeks.

I remember the noise, the deafening sound your absence left behind.

The chaos and the clutter and the betrayal, the cuts and the scrapes and the sweet, so very sweet taste of days gone past.

You rejected me and so I rejected myself.

You became an obsession that filled voids.

Spaces created from your absence, pieces of us broken, chewed up, shattered and discarded for all to view.
I frantically grasped at shards, bleeding and in pain, but I held on. I knew that when I let you go I would sink into myself.

And I remained this way. Submerged.

Until I couldn’t breathe and so, I opened.

I cracked wide open and the pain of the light scorch my bruised and aching soul.

I stitched myself together, but the loose thread faltered.

I erupted and I exploded and the erosion left me weakened and raw.

So, I lay in the sun and I allowed.

The wind came and the storms passed and I weathered all that they gave.

I remained open and I lay empty.

And it was then that I opened my eyes.

I found, you had ruined us but you hadn’t ruined me.

I discovered I was glistening and glittering and glowing.

My insides, though burnt and fractured from the impact of you crushing and the intensity of the pressure, had crystalized.

You took away your love.

But what you will never find out is:

You left behind a diamond.

When You Love Yourself

“I love you!”, I giggled as I tickled my little girl, and we played on the bed.

“I love me too!”, she yelled. I thought this was a good moment to connect.

“Great! What do you love about you?”, I asked while snuggling her on a big pillow.

“Everything! I am kind and funny. And I am open. I even try to be open to loving people I don’t like!” A few minutes later, she was asleep. I thought about her spontaneous reaction.

“Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.” – Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

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The words of an enlightened soul were fed back to me by my little guru. And why wouldn’t that be the case?

“You naturally begin to center more and more on the spiritual part of your being. You do this not by reaching for the Spirit, but by letting go of the rest.” Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

My child is practicing this point, from her 8 year old perspective. She is intuitively letting go of the egoic structures that are not love. Is this what happens when you love yourself?

“How do you react when you think you need people’s love? Do you become a slave for their approval? Do you live an inauthentic life because you can’t bear the thought that they might disapprove of you? Do you try to figure out how they would like you to be, and then try to become that, like a chameleon? In fact, you never really get their love. You turn into someone you aren’t, and then when they say “I love you,” you can’t believe it, because they’re loving a facade. They’re loving someone who doesn’t even exist, the person you’re pretending to be. It’s difficult to seek other people’s love. It’s deadly. In seeking it, you lose what is genuine. This is the prison we create for ourselves as we seek what we already have.” – Byron Katie

When you love yourself, you don’t seek other people’s love. You seek the flow of your own love. And even a child knows that.
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Pint sized polemics on fear

“How did you sleep, mommy?”, my pint sized Wisdom Soul asked me.

“Not great. I was dreaming about my new job,” I yawned, in reply.

“Are you afraid of failing?” She nailed it, with the accuracy of, well, a child.

“I am,” I confessed.

She reflected then looked me in the eye. “I felt that way when I started kindergarten but then I passed. I was afraid again in grade 1, but I passed again. So this year, I was afraid but I know its not true. Same for you.”

I gratefully loved my little guru.  I thanked her.

“OK mommy. But you taught me not to be afraid. So you don’t be afraid!” 

The Uncommon Path

roadI write a lot about relationships.  I used to think it was because that was where my longing was.  I am awakening to understand that it is where my longing has been masked.

Growing up, it was a given that I would fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after.  So, if I was going to get to happily ever after, I had best hurry up and get married.  I set out to achieve this goal with the problem solving approach that has made me successful in business: date some people, determine their suitability as a good husband, then get married.  It is no surprise that I entered into live-in relationships within 3 months of knowing men this way.

Then, the usual issues would arise.  Every relationship showed the same pattern. I blamed my unhealed self, his unhealed self, unconscious patterns.  I blamed everything except asking the question: do I want to be in a relationship?  That question seemed much to scary to contemplate.  My whole belief system, the way my life was designed – it would all have to change.

Over time, and through the pain of facing the illusions over my inner truth, I gradually divested of all romantic relationships. (Ok the universe also took care of this by removing everything that was not a vibrational match.) I began to panic.  The societal views of single woman, spinster, divorcee, single mom – these horrible cultural overlays choked at me.  Surely it was just that I didn’t want those men and relationships? I must want a relationship, don’t I? I began exploring the types that are out there to see if one fit.  Anything but looking at my real longing.

And then I did look at my real longing.  My deepest desire is to live in my Awakened State.  I used to say my biggest fear was not living as a full expression of self.  I assumed that it had to be done in an intimate and romantic relationship.  Therefore, if I was not in a relationship, I could not achieve my longing.

So, the universe brought me relationships within which great deepening was possible (my kula).  Some are with men. Some are with women.  Some have attraction involved, and some do not. But all of them are essential to my Awakening. And in all of them, we have a sense of our commitment to the third entity – that which is created as we support each other in personal and spiritual evolution.

“Awakened Compassion is caring more about the spiritual development of the the person, then you do about the personal requirement in the relationship. This is a great shift from the “idiot compassion” where we listen for the sake of ourselves! First thing in developing Awakened Relationship, is to determine which relationships are relevant to your awakening and which ones are not. It is all about Relationship beyond the Ego Mind!” – Awakened Relationship

“If both you and I are committed to our own personal and spiritual evolution, and the relationship between us is based upon that commitment first and foremost, then the world can’t help but become a better place because we are here!…”  Andrew Cohen – Spiritual Teacher at EnlightenNext

We have gone beyond healing, my kula and I.  We have something else, something I have never had but felt in my longing. The best example was a conversation with one of my friends who is preparing for child birth.  It is not common for us to be anything but open to what the other is exploring, but when she raised some new views on child birth, I found myself just unable to get into her space. I felt a gentle movement away from each other, where we felt acceptance of each other’s position but not a drawing together.  I did not like that feeling. So I explored more on my own, and found where I could understand her views from a spiritual and consciousness space.  It was so easy it made me laugh.  When I shared my new openness with her, you could feel the instant drawing together in a new space.  The space was housed in love.  I was drawn to pledge supporting her with as much openness as possible through her entire process.  We both felt powerful movement in the conversation.  I was so immersed in the love that was flowing in that opening.  I could not be more in a state of love in relation to another (a preferred version of the phrase in love).

I realize this is The Uncommon Path.  I was afraid there would be very few travelers on this path.  While it my own, it is nice to tarry in a tavern with another traveler, or to share a meal over the fire, or to bathe in the river together as we wander.  It had been a very long time since I encountered another on my road.  Now, I have travelers on my path, and places to visit in every metaphorical town I visit.  The path may be uncommon.  But I am not alone.