Do Empaths Really End Up With Narcissists?

Do you ever wonder why the biggest hearts end up with the most toxic partners? 

Empaths are known for their endless compassion – something the narcissist lacks any of.

On paper, it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, yet empaths are the ones who end up circling the narcissist.


The psychological dynamics create this intense and often painful bond. Red flags surround the entire relationship; the emotional rollercoaster can be too much to handle.

Yet somehow, this pattern of nice vs. narcissism plays out so frequently.

There’s got to be a good reason, right?…


Opposites Attract

I’m going to start off by announcing the obvious:

Narcissists and empaths are polar opposites.

The narcissist is full of self-importance. They think of nobody but themselves, and want and crave as much attention as others are willing to give.

They smile at the misery or helplessness of those they deem less fortunate than them. Their dreams are fulfilled by stealing the dreams of people within reaching distance. 

The narcissist has built up an image of themselves: I’m perfect and I am untouchable. I am better than everybody else.

The narcissist will happily take advantage of people, and lacks any kind of empathy. Instead – they will invalidate how you feel at every given opportunity.

Now the empath….

The empath is a kind and compassionate person, with a lot of time to offer. They thrive in lending a hand, or an ear to a situation they feel they can make a difference in.

Empaths want to help heal people who are struggling. They see the good in every situation and are very forgiving. They enjoy fragments of attention, but go no way to seek it. 

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Empaths put themselves in somebody else’s shoes and authentically feel what they’re feeling. They absorb everything like a sponge, and are highly sensitive people.

Empaths become overwhelmed by stress easily, yet will drop everything to be the good listener that they are.

Now … I’ve just described two kinds of people who you normally wouldn’t think would have anything to do with each other.

Sadly, that’d be wrong. 

The Empath’s Dilemma: Falling for a Narcissist

Let’s get one thing clear right from the start:

Empaths fall for the narcissist, but the narcissist does not reciprocate. Instead, they use the empath’s love to feel better about themselves. 

The empath, in their quest of continuing innocence and good, sees the narcissist feeling good about themselves as some kind of love in return.

It’s not.

The empath then has a dilemma: I am in love with this person who doesn’t seem to be able to love me back in the same way. 

It doesn’t stop the empath from endlessly trying to initiate some kind of loving feeling from the narcissist. 

  • They will do whatever the narcissist wants, to try and make them happy
  • Favorite meals are cooked, thoughtful gifts are bought on special occasions or holidays
  • An air of, ‘everything is fine’ surrounds the empath. Keep smiling, and it’ll all work out
  • The narcissist’s moods are excused as ‘bad days’ or ‘a little stressed’

Over time, empaths begin to see themselves as the problem. They can’t heal the person they love. 

The realization that the narcissist will never change always looks t o the empath like they aren’t good enough to change for. Those vulnerabilities the empath is so good at displaying are not met similarly with the narcissist.

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No matter how much they try, the empath will never find the version of the person they want in the narcissist. It leaves them in a state of grief – love somebody who is not there.

Why Empaths Are Drawn to Narcissists

Empaths, in their ever-giving personality, take it upon themselves to want to meet the needs of the narcissist. 

As true people-pleasers, the empath will read all the signs the narcissist is giving, and do what they can to tick their boxes. It is beyond a desire for them, becoming more and more like a personal responsibility to take care of the narcissist. 

Empaths typically seek validation because they experienced a lack of it in childhood. If their emotional needs were not met when younger, they will look for it in adult relationships. They look for that instant feeling that makes them feel loved or wanted.

The initial charm of a narcissist ticks those boxes for an empath. Beyond the charm, the narcissist appears to have genuinely loving and attentive traits. They act thoughtful and interested and watch the empath closely as they respond positively. 

The allure wins – and the empath becomes attached to the narcissist. 

Loving the Unlovable

Soon enough, the mask will slip to reveal the true person behind that charm first spotted. By then, the empath has already signed under the dotted line, and fallen in love. 

With love, comes the constant excusing of the narcissist’s bad behavior. Empaths will ‘step out of line’ according to the narcissist, and will do what it takes to get back in their good books.

They need validation. They need to know they’re doing good. 

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They will try harder if they don’t meet the narcissist’s requirements.

Understanding the Empath-Narcissist Relationship

As the relationship between the two progresses over time, understanding it becomes easier to achieve. 

It’s a constant push and pull

The emotional push and pull of the empath/narcissist relationship becomes an everyday occurrence. There isn’t a single day where eggshells won’t feel as if they’re being walked on.

It’s one-sided

The empath gives, the narcissist takes. Over time, empaths fall victim to the constant fatigue this causes, and wonder if they can ever do anything right again. Self-esteem drops, as that of the narcissist continues to soar. 

Emotions: Drained vs. energized

The energy levels of the empath and narcissist will become starkly contrasted as one continues their pursuit for ultimate power and manipulation. The empath won’t stop looking for ways to help the narcissist, ensuring they give all their strength to make the doomed relationship work. 

The gap widens

The more time passes, the more the gap between them both will widen. Empaths are known for trying and trying, no matter how much they fail. Their positive outlook is almost abused by the narcissist, who is known to breadcrumb. This is where the narcissist displays fragments of affection that the empath will gobble up

Any affection is good affection, no matter the amount, right?

It’s a sad yet common dynamic. The problem with it is that there will only ever be one winner. While the narcissist proves they can still play games that cause hurt, pain and misery, the empath is usually left wondering what they did wrong in all of it. 

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