We know that “narcissist” has become a bit of a buzzword recently, and some folks are quick to apply it to an ex-lover or family member or friend. While awareness of this concept is healthy, so is remembering that it is, in a mental health context, a serious condition that shouldn’t be applied to someone you’re mad at because they stole your mirror. ~ Eds.
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 of 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 empathic 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.
Loneliness gets to some more than others. But why it hangs on isn’t always apparent when read by traditional medical eyes. In my medical practice and workshops I’ve been struck by how many sensitive, empathic people who I call “emotional empaths” come to me, lonely, wanting a romantic partner, yet remaining single for years. Or else they’re in relationships but feel constantly fatigued and overwhelmed. The reason isn’t simply that “there aren’t enough emotionally available people ‘out there,'” nor is their burnout”neurotic.” Personally and professionally, I’ve discovered that something more is going on.
Emotional empaths are a species unto themselves. Whereas others may thrive on the togetherness of being a couple, for empaths like me, too much togetherness can be difficult, may cause us to bolt. Why? We tend to intuit and absorb our partner’s energy, and become overloaded, anxious, or exhausted when we don’t have time to decompress in our own space. We’re super-responders; our sensory experience of relationship is the equivalent of feeling objects with fifty fingers instead of five. Energetically sensitive people unknowingly avoid romantic partnership because deep down they’re afraid of getting engulfed. Or else, they feel engulfed when coupled, a nerve-wracking, constrictive way to live. If this isn’t understood, empaths can stay perpetually lonely; we want companionship, but, paradoxically, it doesn’t feel safe.
For emotional empaths to be at ease in a relationship, the traditional paradigm for coupling must be redefined. Most of all, this means asserting your personal space needs–the physical and time limits you set with someone so you don’t feel they’re on top of you. Empaths can’t fully experience emotional freedom with another until they do this. Your space needs can vary with your situation, upbringing, and culture. My ideal distance to keep in public is at least an arm’s length. In doctors’ waiting rooms I’ll pile my purse and folders on the seats beside me to keep others away. With friends it’s about half that. With a mate it’s variable. Sometimes it’s rapture being wrapped in his arms; later I may need to be in a room of my own, shut away. All of us have an invisible energetic border that sets a comfort level. Identifying and communicating yours will prevent you from being bled dry by others. Then intimacy can flourish, even if you’ve felt suffocated before.
If you’re an empath or if the ordinary expectations of couple dom don’t jibe with you practice the following tips.
Tips for empaths to feel at ease in a relationship:
Tip 1. What to say to a potential mate
As you’re getting to know someone, share that you’re a sensitive person, that you periodically need quiet time. The right partner will be understanding; the wrong person will put you down for being “overly sensitive,” won’t respect your need.
Tip 2. Clarify your preferred sleep style
Traditionally, partners sleep in the same bed. However, some empaths never get used to this, no matter how caring a mate. Nothing personal; they just like their own sleep space. Speak up about your preferences. Feeling trapped in bed with someone, not getting a good night’s rest, is torture. Energy fields blend during sleep, which can overstimulate empaths. So, discuss options with your mate. Because non-empaths may feel lonely sleeping alone, make compromises when possible.
Tip 3. Negotiate your square footage needs
You may be thrilled about your beloved until you live together. Experiment with creative living conditions so your home isn’t a prison. Breathing room is mandatory. Ask yourself, “What space arrangements are optimal?” Having an area to retreat to, even if it’s a closet? A room divider? Separate bathrooms? Separate houses? I prefer having my own bedroom/office to retreat to.
Tip 4. Travel wisely
Traveling with someone, you may want to have separate space too. If sharing a room is the only option, hanging a sheet as a room divider will help. “Out of sight” may make the heart grow fonder.
Tip 5. Take regular mini-breaks
Empaths require private downtime to regroup. Even a brief escape prevents emotional overload. Retreat for five minutes into the bathroom with the door shut. Take a stroll around the block. Read in a separate room.
In my medical practice, I’ve seen this creative approach to relationships save marriages and make ongoing intimacies feel safe, even for emotional empaths (of all ages) who’ve been lonely and haven’t had a long-term partner before. Once you’re able to articulate your needs, emotional freedom in your relationships is possible.
Author: Judith Orloff MD
Source: Psychology Today
Virtuous actions consist of abandoning the ten negative actions and, on the other hand, of practicing their opposite.
The ten virtuous actions of Tibetan Buddhism are:
1. By avoiding killing and harming the others, and by protecting the life of other beings we will gain a long life and a good health.
2. By avoiding stealing and by practicing generosity, by making sacrifices, we will have wealth, no thieves and enemies, and a good physique.
3. By maintaining a pure sexual conduct, we will have a good partner and only a few enemies.
4.By avoiding lying and by talking sincerely and directly, we will be appreciated and respected by everyone.
5. By avoiding slandering and by making peace between the people that hate each other, we will have disciples and respectful employees.
6. By avoiding painful words and by talking calmly, amiably and gently, we will hear nice things.
7. By avoiding talking uselessly and by talking about important things, our words will be listened.
8. By avoiding greed and by cultivating an open and generous mentality, our wishes will come true.
9. By avoiding having bad thoughts and by cultivating love and goodwill, we won’t be afraid and we won’t suffer any harm.
10. By avoiding being involved in wrong beliefs, by cultivating the real point of view and by practicing it, we will have a correct and intelligent vision of reality.