It took me many years to realize that I was more than just a ‘sensitive’ person. If you are reading this article, then it’s likely that you, too, connect with being an empath. Although I now see my empathic abilities as a super-power of sorts, there is a downside of being able to connect with the emotions of others so easily. This capability often attracts the opposite of empath: narcissist.
Empath narcissist relationships are, unfortunately, all too common. This is because empaths and narcissists are on opposite sides of the same coin. For some, this statement is a little hard to accept. After all, empaths and narcissists are so different.
But keep reading, and by the end of the article, you’ll understand more about the attraction, empath narcissist relationships, and how to break free from narcissistic connections that are stopping you from living your best life.
What is the Opposite of Empath: a Narcissist
A narcissist AKA ‘narc’ is a person who has been (or should be) diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD.)
Because it is very rare for a narcissist to seek help, a vast majority of those who have narcissistic traits are and will remain undiagnosed. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t wreaking havoc on the lives of others.
It also doesn’t mean you can’t pinpoint a narcissist by their personality traits/behavior. Just like tigers have stripes, narcissists share similar markers that can help you identify them and their toxic behavior.
A Pattern of Grandiosity
According to the book professionals use to diagnose NPD, this disorder is marked by a pattern of grandiosity that is present by early adulthood. This is a larger-than-life sense of superiority and invulnerability. This usually presents in nine specific ways:
- The opposite of an Empath has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and expects to be recognized as superior. Narcissists often lie about achievements and expect others to see them as exceptional and without flaw or fault.
- Has fantasies about and is often obsessed with the idea of being “the best.” I.e., all-powerful, super successful, the most brilliant, most beautiful, etc. And often, they succeed. Unfortunately, their route includes bulldozing others.
- Believes that he/she is unique and special in such a way that only others of a similar status could understand them. This makes it difficult for them to create and maintain solid friendships and relationships. After all, they feel they are better than everyone else.
- Has an arrogant attitude. Because of the traits listed above, narcissists often come across as very self-assured at the first meeting. Most of the time, this morphs into arrogance as you get to know them better.
This shouldn’t be confused with confidence which is a positive trait that is built off being aware of strengths and weaknesses. Narcissists feel that they have no faults and have to brag and belittle to show how worthy they are.
- Requires excessive amounts of admiration from others. This is what is known as “narcissistic supply.” If their partner, friend, child, etc. is no longer providing never-ending amounts of praise, they often get bored and move to the next.
- Possesses a sense of entitlement and expectation of others that is totally unrealistic. For example, the narcissist in an empath narcissistic relationship will often expect total perfection and automatic compliance from his or her partner. “Why?” you might ask. Well because the narcissist feels he is all-deserving, of course.
- A tendency to exploit and take advantage of others. Narcissists tend to see people not as equals, but as things to use to their advantage. After all, they feel they are superior and therefore, everyone else, even their own children, is expendable.
This is why narcissists are famous for ‘discarding’ those that love them in a way that is similar to tossing out the trash. Once they have no use for you, you are forgotten.
- Lack of empathy. This is the one that makes the narcissist the opposite of an empath. Whereas empaths are able to understand the feelings of others on a deep and profound level, narcissists are unable to do so. In fact, even relating to another person’s emotions at all is foreign.
Don’t get me wrong, opposites of empaths/narcissists are good at ‘faking it’ in the beginning. But this is just an act and is similar to the way an actor can feign a foreign accent while in character.
Deep down, a narcissist can’t and doesn’t want to consider how you feel or what you need. They will always revert back to their true nature.
- Envy is a common emotion. This happens in two different ways. For one, deep down, narcissists are really insecure and envious of everyone. They know something is ‘off’ and loathe themselves. Of course, this is something that they would never admit. They are also very paranoid and believe that others are out to get them or envious of them.
It is important to remember that a person suffering from NPD can have some or all of the following characteristics. You might even see some in your own behavior. We all have flaws. But the true opposite of empath narcissist will show at least five.
The Empath Narcissist Relationship
Narcissists aren’t born, they are made. The same is true for most empaths. A great percentage of empaths experience trauma in their childhood.
This often happens in the form of physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a parent with problems. This parent might have been depressed/mentally ill, an alcoholic/addict, or a narcissist.
Why Empaths are a Perfect Match for Narcissists
Some children rise out of the ashes of trauma as a sensitive, empathetic person who wants to bring good to the world and help others. This is a good thing, but it comes with difficulties.
Empaths are often overwhelmed, have a hard time letting go, and struggle with boundaries. We can also be naive (think little red riding hood in the woods.) This makes us a perfect match for the opposite of an empath: a narcissist.
Why Narcissists Target Empaths
You see, narcissists were also impacted by childhood trauma. However, they used different coping mechanisms to deal with their abuse than the empath.
The unfortunate result is a pathologic self-centeredness that never naturally declined over time like what happens with most children.
Instead, they used these patterns as a way to protect and care for themselves. This leads to a personality that is described by Psychology Today like this:
Narcissists make others miserable and get aggressive with people who won’t give them the agreement, admiration, and respect they feel entitled to, expecting automatic compliance…
A narcissist is toxic to situations and people, except perhaps to an inner circle of supporters—at least for as long as they continue to support the narcissist’s agenda.
Who better than to support and admire such a person than an empath who is loving, caring, and sees the good in everyone? This is especially true of empaths with co-dependent tendencies.
Why an Empath Narcissist Relationship can be Toxic
You see, empaths are exactly what a narcissist needs. We give lots of love, attention, time, and effort. They extract energy like a vampire from its prey.
But we also get something in return. We feel needed and we get to give (what we do naturally.) Until the price is too great and must face a hard truth:
We can not make anyone into loving us. Nor can we ‘heal’ or fix someone else’s internal issue.
Many people (especially psychologists) believe that that there is no way for a narcissist to change. And the truth is, NPD recovery rates are extremely low.
I don’t believe in impossibles. It is possible for anyone to overcome negative programming. However, that can only be accomplished by one’s own doing. And others shouldn’t stick around to “help.”
How To Break and Avoid Empath Narcissist Patterns?
Not every empath will fall victim to the empath narcissist dance, but many, many will. And if it happens once, you can almost guarantee it will happen again.
This is because a person who is attracted to a person with a serious personality disorder like NPD usually has some healing to do.
In fact, I’ll let you in on a secret. As much as we would like to think of a narcissist as the opposite of an empath, they are usually our perfect match.
When I say this to people, I often get a puzzled or disgusted look. But we have to remember that the people that come into our lives don’t do so by chance.
If you have been impacted by narcissistic abuse it can serve as a warning sign that something deeper may be hiding just under the surface, something that needs to be healed. This is especially true if you struggle to let go of the connection even though it is clearly harming you.
Here are a few suggestions on ways to break/heal from such a traumatic bond:
1. Learn as Much as You Can about the opposite of an empath
There is so much information out there about the empath narcissist connection. By learning all you can about these personalities, you empower yourself to make a sincere change. Read articles, read books, and watch Youtube videos. Knowledge is power.
But remember, for every 1 thing you read about narcissistic traits and abuse, you should read 5 more on healing. You must focus on you above all else.
2. Recognize and Accept Your Role
Narcissistic abuse is never okay. The victim is not at fault. However, there are parts of a victim’s personality or past that makes them more susceptible to such a connection. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
- Was one of my early caregivers a narcissist, an alcoholic, or emotionally absent?
- Does the narcissist in my life have similarities to this caregiver?
- Am I repeating a pattern from childhood?
- Am I a dependable person who is always there for others even when it’s not in my best interest?
- Do I have trouble setting or keeping boundaries?
- Do I struggle with self-confidence or self-esteem?
- Am I an empath or a highly sensitive person?
- Do I tend to want to save or help people who are troubled?
Taking an inventory of these traits/past experiences can help you become more accountable for your life and future choices.
3. Focus on Healing
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may need to work on healing inner issues. You can do this work alone, but usually, the help of a qualified counselor/therapist can make the process a lot smoother.
Meditation and healing your chakras are also good starting places as they put you in touch with your higher self. Your higher self will always have your best interest at heart and can guide you toward the right decisions.
4. Choose No Contact with The Opposite of Empaths
Hippocrates, a Greek physician born 400 years before Christ, is a timeless figure of medicine. His name is the root of the “Hippocratic Oath” taken by doctors and he was both wise and brilliant.
I’m not sure if Hippocrates knew any narcissists or empaths, but I know he was quoted as saying:
“Before you heal someone, ask him if he’s willing to give up the things that make him sick.” ― Hippocrates
The only way to heal from toxic relationships is to give them up completely. As hard as it might be to walk away, we must do so if we are to ever be whole and at peace.
This comes in the form of no contact. And when I say none, I mean zero, zilch. If you have children, you can go the “grey rock” method instead, which is built on limited contact.
For me, this has been, the most difficult struggle of my life. It’s one that I face over and over again, sometimes daily. Yet, I choose no contact because I know it’s the loving one for myself. And all healing falls back to self-love.
Final Thoughts on the Opposite of Empaths
Which brings me to one final question: what one good thing will you do for yourself today? Let me know in the comment section. I’d also like to hear your experience and thoughts on the empath narcissist connection and any success you’ve had in recovery.