The Narcissist & The Empath: What Gives?
There’s been a lot talk on social media for the past while about the potentially dangerous combination between an empath and a narcissist. I jumped at the chance to write a blog post on the subject after a friend came to me sharing another exhausting experience.
As we know, an empath is a person who not only feels emotions very deeply but also tends to take on or absorb the pain or feelings of people around them. A narcissist is defined as a person who is overly self-involved, and often very vain and selfish.
“That’s enough of me talking about myself; let’s hear you talk about me.”
“It’s not easy being superior to everyone I know.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why this combination is particularly potent. Empaths often provide a continuous supportive audience to the narcissist. Always available, empaths often give every last drop of their energy to the person – until they become emotionally spent, brittle, and exhausted. At this point, the empath will either collapse physically, mentally or emotionally and the narcissist will often move on to fresher, greener pastures. This can leave the empath feeling despondent and victimized.
While I have personally experienced this cycle in a past relationship (and yes, it almost destroyed me) I don’t see myself as victimized. Rather, I see him as one of my greatest teachers. You guys know me well enough by now to see that I like to dig around and find the gemstones buried in muddy life situations. I learned a lot in that relationship about personal power, boundaries, and over-giving of my time and attention. It totally sucked that I felt bled dry at the end, but after time and distance, I realized that I contributed to that situation by allowing myself to be used. It was a mutual offering. He took from me what I was willing to continuously give. A major life lesson that I am now very grateful for because I can now spot that behavior a mile away!
I’m not on the bandwagon that narcissists are evil and poor little empaths are just so taken advantage of. Sorry.
Narcissists are how they are, and they likely won’t change. Empaths get roped in easily because they often like to be needed and feel special in being able to constantly give support to someone.
It’s a two party deal.
If you are an empath who thinks you may be in a relationship with a narcissist, I would encourage you to evaluate your personal power. I understand that it can be exhausting and debilitating to be in relationship with someone like that – AND – you likely have more power to change your dynamic than you realize. If you feel bled dry, it’s likely because your energy is being siphoned from someone who will take from your indefinitely. Not fun, but also realize that you are contributing to that dynamic for some reason. If the relationship isn’t mutually supportive or doesn’t contribute to your overall health and happiness, then maybe it’s time to take a good honest look at your options.
I’m not going to pretend that recovering from my relationship with a narcissist wasn’t hard. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It took every ounce of my strength to keep my heart open and not become bitter and angry. I viewed the whole thing as a tailor-made lesson by the Universe. Now, I give thanks. I chose to stay open-hearted, to not blame or become hardened. Instead, that relationship allowed me to walk my ultimate growth edge, and I’m infinitely stronger and more self-connected as a result.
Next week we’ll continue this thread by evaluating 10 signs that you are in a relationship with a narcissist. There are so many layers to this topic. I welcome your thoughts and experiences. Stay tuned!