The empath and the narcissist form a toxic connection in which the empath is slowly drained of their personality and authentic self, until they become enmeshed with the narcissist.
For a while this may seem like love. Two people, thinking and acting as one. But the reality is far different.
Before we look at the empath and narcissist relationship in more depth, let’s first take a look at whether the narcissist is able to love at all.
Narcissists feel empty and inadequate and an empath is sensitive to that. They can feel their pain and they want to heal the narcissist. But in giving so much, the empath is left like an empty shell.
When the narcissist is in pain, they need an external regulatory object to restore the emotional balance and prevent the collapse into self-inadequacy. Therefore the empath, who is naturally in-tune with the feelings of others is a perfect match for the narcissist. The empath will automatically sense when the narcissist is feeling stressed and anxious and will adjust their own behaviours and responses in order to restore the balance in the narcissist. This initially meets both parties needs in that the narcissist has their attachment figure to regulate their emotions and the empath feels helpful and needed with their ability to soothe the narcissist.
Sadly this comes at the expense of the wants and needs of the empath. They disappear into the relationship until only the narcissistic personality is present. The role of the empath is no longer as a loving partner but instead as a thermostat, whose only purpose is to adjust their own behaviours and responses to ensure the narcissist does not rage or withdraw.
Psychologically the narcissist has conditioned the empath to give themselves over to them. If the empath is unable or unwilling to adjust themselves, the narcissist will fly into a rage, make threats or give them the silent treatment until the empath does what the narcissist wants. Slowly over time the empath learns to simply respond as the narcissist wants.
When the empath begins to reawaken and starts to assert themselves, the narcissist will attempt to regain control through threats, intimidation and withdrawal. When the empath no longer responds as the narcissists needs them to, the narcissist will begin to search elsewhere for another regulatory object – aka supply.
At this point the empath may change their mind and return to their thermostat role, fearful of losing the narcissist. If this happens the narcissist realises they have total and utter control over the empath and the abuse will become more severe and dangerous. They will have affairs, constantly belittle the empath and generally walk all over them. The empath will try everything they can to restore the balance but the narcissist has projected all their own self-inadequacy onto the empath who can now do nothing right.
This will destroy the self-esteem of the empath and leave them even more vulnerable to the exploits of the narcissist.
If any of this sounds familiar, there is hope. You can build up your strength to leave. But I would advise that you are stealth-like in your approach. Work on your assertiveness (grab our workbook), build up a support network and plan your escape. It sounds very dull but do a risk assessment of the situation. Have they made threats on your or anyone else’s life if you were to leave? Have they been violent to you or others? Do they make you feel afraid for your safety? If you answered “yes” to any of those then do ensure that you take these into consideration when making your plans. Talk to a domestic abuse service about escape plans. Notify the police of your concerns (they won’t do anything without proof of an impending crime but having it on record could help should they try anything). Ensure that you have everything you need in one attempt. And do whatever you can to not make them suspicious.
Remember that you deserve to live a life of happiness and peace. You are stronger than you feel right now. You CAN do this. If you would like to talk more please do get in touch. I’d love to know your comments and thoughts and if this resonates with you.