Every relationship is different, and every person has different needs that they hope can be fulfilled by the other person. In a healthy relationship, there is an even “give and take dance” between the couple. However, in some toxic relationships, there is only a one-sided pull. This can happen when a giver meets a taker, a moth meets a flame, or an empath meets a narcissist.
What is Narcissism
Sigmund Freud describes narcissism as a necessary stage of human development that all children go through. For example, the crying baby doesn’t care that you’re tired and will manipulate you into feeling bad if you don’t immediately satisfy their need. This is normal and expected behavior from an infant, and as children get older they usually outgrow these narcissistic tendencies and begin to understand that people exist for reasons beyond fulfilling their needs.
According to psychologist Loren Soeiro, Ph.D., narcissists are categorized as having an exaggerated sense of self-worth, and are constantly looking out for their own benefit. They exploit relationships and place value on people depending on how well they serve their needs. Soeiro goes on to explain that some narcissists lack empathy and are usually really good at reading people. They will say whatever they know you need to hear in order to get want they want from you.
What is an Empath
According to psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff M.D., empaths are highly sensitive and keen on picking up on the emotions of others. They tend to be really good listeners and find themselves easily drawn into the emotional storm of someone else’s life. Dr. Orloff says that empaths usually make really good friends because they can easily tune into your feelings, and are often willing to completely give themselves over to your needs, even at the risk of their own well-being.
Since empaths tend to be so attuned to others, Dr. Orloff states that they can often become overwhelmed by extreme emotions and in intimate relationships, they might lose themselves in the needs of their partner. They need alone time to sort it all out.
What Happens When the Empath Meets the Narcissist
Empaths are highly intuitive and exhaust themselves in helping others, while narcissists are self-serving egocentrics who value people based on how much they can use them. So naturally, when these two meet you get a relationship made in toxic heaven. Shannon Thomas, author of “Healing From Hidden Abuse” says an empath’s strongest quality is that they understand people are human and believe that they are all capable of change. Unfortunately, they are often attracted to people who say they will change but never do. A narcissist, however, is attracted to someone who they believe will make them look good, and because no one is perfect, they are often disappointed.
It is crucial to understand that in this relationship, the narcissist will not change their behavior as long as their needs are met, and the empaths must understand that they will be constantly drained in a relationship where the other person’s only concern is their own satisfaction. When there is no even give and take, one person is always burned, and that person is usually the empath that feels too deeply.