The archetypes of the narcissist and the empath are fascinating because they mirror each other and can be found (to varying degrees) in every human being.
Human beings by definition have a sense of self and at the same time are able to relate to others. The empath and narcissist however, embody the extremes of both parts of this equation.
Like a tragic love story, these two fractured characters are one and the same, feeding off each other…
Like one side of the same coin, they recognize themselves in each other and as if by some twisted order of nature or destiny, always seem to find each other.
Similar to the Yin and Yang of Taoist philosophy, they tend to revolve around each other, gravitate to each other and follow each other like a shadow but the toxic union of these opposing forces is not one of harmony and is doomed to end terribly.
The narcissist is generally easy to spot, especially in the selfie age of social media, in fact you might be acquainted with a few (or be one without knowing it) and although today the title is used for anyone with a massive ego, narcissism is actually a mental disorder.
Rather than being a birth right, it is a pattern of behaviour that has developed over time.
Narcissists are takers, emotional vampires who use others to build up their own reserves and when it comes to relationships, use the imbalance to their advantage. Deeply wounded (usually in childhood), they feel worthless and undervalued, therefore constantly seeking validation.
The empath on the other hand is a little bit harder to spot.
Extremely sensitive to energy and highly intuitive, empaths sense and absorb other people’s pain/emotions, often forgetting that other people might have different objectives.
The relationship between these ‘star crossed lovers’ is one categorized by exploitation and manipulation. Narcissists and empaths in this equation of pain are interchangeably male or female with no one gender belonging to each category specifically.
At first contact, the powerful “vibe” of the narcissist draws the empath in like a moth to a flame.
The narcissist may be hard to read emotionally and the empath (used to being able to read emotions) will try and “figure him out”, all while being made to feel that their relationship is special.
The empath’s true mistake is in thinking he/she can help the narcissist (who often doesn’t want to be helped). Narcissists are well versed with knowing when to give praise and when to push buttons to get an emotional response.
The interesting thing here is that the empath’s needs are also being fulfilled, even though he/she is obviously the disposable element in this equation. The empath is a ‘willing’ victim.
Although narcissists are usually arrogant overachievers, they are unable to function in certain ways. The empath is slowly made to feel that he/she has an obligation to serve the narcissist and at the same time, he/she is being made to feel worthless so that he/she will seek worth from the narcissist, making the narcissist feel worthy.
This drama tends to escalate until the empath begins to adopt the traits of the narcissist, becoming concerned with their own feelings and well-being.
Conflict arises when the narcissist sees this as selfish behaviour.
Narcissists are usually charismatic and rarely know the empath’s boundaries, attempting to place blame on the empath for the pain of both parties.
The narcissist will use gaslighting to make the empath feel ‘crazy’ for responding the way they are. They will say they are imagining things.
This creates a relationship of control for the narcissist. They leave the empath feeling reliant on them for everything including their sense of reality.
Often, by this point, the empath will have become unrecognizable to their friends and family.
The empath becomes manipulated by someone who has no remorse about hurting another individual.
The painful but powerful process of transformation begins for the empath by walking away and recognize that there are parts of themselves they must protect and there are certain people that you just cannot trust, love or change.
The first step of walking away is not easy and it may take a healthy dose of support from friends, family, support groups as well as traditional or online marriage counseling (if it is a marriage situation).
The ability for these two types to bond is simply impossible as the empath’s heart is open and the narcissist’s heart is closed.
For empaths this will be a painful awakening. The narcissist however will most likely continue on as if they are completely innocent and nothing happened.
The narcissist cannot and will not change as the abilities required are learned early on in life. Sadly, a time will come when they will know they cannot connect with other people or with themselves.
If you believe in the journey of life teaching you lessons to help you grow at every step, then this relationship can be one of the biggest lessons for both parties. It can be seen as life’s way of restoring balance.
The narcissist will most probably be the empath’s greatest teacher, giving them a hard lesson in the importance of creating healthy boundaries.
The empath is the narcissist’s reverse self and a sort of desperate, last ditch attempt at life trying to heal the narcissist however, the narcissist’s healing has to come from deep within himself.
Overfeeding the ego or self is damaging but selflessness and lack of self without proportion is also damaging. The human being in balance is one that has both in equal measure.