The Inverted (Mirror) Narcissist

Can a narcissist’s partner also be a narcissist? Many partners who have stayed with their narcissist have questioned whether they themselves were selfishly staying with him or her (because they liked the fame, success, wealth, etc).

Many individuals who do stay with a narcissist- but not all- tend to be codependents. One specific type of codependent is, indeed, a narcissist.

They are called ‘covert narcissists’, ‘inverted’ or ‘mirror’ narcissists, or ‘narcissist- codependent’ or even an “N-magnet” (narcissist magnet).

Inverted narcissists are codependents who emotionally depend exclusively on classic narcissists.

Narcissists and inverted narcissists are, in many ways, two sides of the same coin, or “the mold and the molded” (Sam Vaknin) – hence the terms “mirror narcissist” or “inverted narcissist”.

Inverted narcissists are much rarer and harder to identify than the boastful, arrogant “classic” narcissist.

Surprisingly for a narcissist, the inverted type is self-effacing and/or introverted. Let’s take a closer look at what we mean by some of these terms.


Codependents are people who depend on other people for their emotional gratification.

They are usually needy, demanding, and subservient. Like the classic narcissist, they fear abandonment.  

They tend to be clingy and will engage in immature behaviors to maintain this “relationship”.  

Codependents will stay with their partners despite whatever abuse is inflicted upon them.

Also like the classic narcissist, they seek to control their partner; they do this through being an eager victim.

Codependency refers to excessive and unhealthy caretaking behavior or feelings.

This doesn’t just occur with narcissists but also with partners of alcoholics, drug, sex, or other addicts.

Codependents often play the role of martyr. They persistently put others’ needs before their own and are not likely to take care of their own needs.

This makes them feel “needed”. Codependents are also likely to set themselves up as the “victim”, especially in arguments or disagreements.

On occasion, they do stand up for themselves but are then wracked with guilt.

Inverted Narcissist

The classic narcissist has ‘overt’ or obvious/unconcealed behavior. 

The inverted narcissist has ‘covert’ or concealed narcissistic behavior.

The inverted narcissist is a type of codependent who depends exclusively on narcissists.  Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love, describes the inverted narcissist this way:

To “qualify” as an inverted narcissist, you must CRAVE to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him/her. You must ACTIVELY seek relationships with narcissists and ONLY with narcissists, no matter what your (bitter and traumatic) past experience has been. You must feel EMPTY and UNHAPPY in relationships with ANY OTHER kind of person.

Inverted or ‘covert’ narcissists are “intensely attuned to others’ needs, but only in so far as it relates to [their] own need to perform the requisite sacrifice“.

An inverted narcissist makes certain that in true martyr fashion,

they will readily provide unlimited supplies of gratitude, love and attention as well as caretaking that is almost compulsive in nature.

Vaknin theorized that “the inverted narcissist is a person who grew up enthralled by the narcissistic parent … the child becomes a masterful provider of Narcissistic Supply, a perfect match to the parent’s personality.”

On a day-to-day basis, the inverted narcissist is extremely shy, introverted and uncomfortable with any attention being paid to him or her.

He or she has extreme feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem as indicated by:

  • Possesses a rigid sense of lack of self-worth.
  •  Lacks empathy. Is intensely attuned to others’ needs, but only in so far as it relates to his/her own need to perform the required self-sacrifice, which in turn is necessary in order to obtain Narcissistic Supply from the primary narcissist.
  •  Feels that he/she is undeserving and not entitled.
  • Is selfless, sacrificial, even groveling in her interpersonal relationships and avoids the assistance of others at all costs. Can only interact with others when she can be seen to be giving, supportive, and expending an unusual effort to assist.
  • Pre-occupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance and beauty or of an ideal of love.
  • Believes that he or she is absolutely un-unique and un-special and that no one at all could understand her because she is innately unworthy of being understood.
  •  Displays extreme shyness, lack of any real relational connections, is publicly self-effacing in the extreme, is internally highly moralistic and critical of others; is a perfectionist and engages in lengthy ritualistic behaviors, which can never be perfectly performed
  • Envies others. Cannot conceive of being envied and becomes extremely agitated and uncomfortable if even brought into a situation where comparison might occur. Loathes competition and avoids competition at all costs
  • Demands anonymity (in the sense of seeking to remain excluded at all costs) and is intensely irritated and uncomfortable with any attention being paid to him/her

Do they also have narcissistic rages?

Like the classic narcissist, the inverted narcissist will indeed react with narcissistic rage to what they perceive as threats or narcissistic injury.

The inverted narcissist may respond with rage whenever her lack of self-worth is threatened, when envious of other’s achievements or happiness, or when her sense of self-worthlessness is diminished by a behavior/ comment/event.

Thus, this type of narcissist might react angrily to good things: a kind remark, a successful accomplishment, a reward, or a compliment.  

They might also rage when they believe that they have failed or are imperfect, useless and worthless.

During their rage, the inverted narcissist can become verbally and emotionally abusive.

He or she ruthlessly attacks her victim but then immediately goes into an unbelievable calm, described as “thundering silence”. 

The inverted narcissists then regret their behavior and apologize profusely.

They gather these negative emotions and use them as weapons for further self-destruction. “It is from this repressed self-contempt and sadistic self-judgment that the narcissistic rage springs forth”.

Relationship with the Narcissist

Although inverted narcissists can have non-narcissists as friends, significant relationships are only with other narcissists.

These relationships are usually spousal relationships but can also be significant friendships with other narcissists.

The inverted narcissist attempts to re-create the parent-child relationship in a love relationship.

By mirroring back the narcissist’s own grandiosity, the inverted narcissist obtains his/her own Narcissistic Supply (which is the narcissist’s dependence on them).

The inverted narcissist ensures that the narcissist is happy, cared for, adored, and has plenty of Narcissistic Supply.

They suffer narcissistic devaluation with poise and composure. They handle narcissistic rage by managing every last detail in their environment, closely supervising and controlling all situations, so that they minimize the inevitable narcissistic rages of their narcissist.

The inverted narcissist only feels loved in a relationship where their life is totally engulfed by the narcissist. They are not likely to abandon the relationship with the narcissist.

The relationship usually doesn’t end unless the narcissist decides the inverted narcissist is no longer useful, and refuses to supply him/her with any more Narcissistic Supply. Only then does the inverted narcissist halfheartedly move on to another relationship.


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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

28 thoughts on “The Inverted (Mirror) Narcissist”

  1. Until reading this article I thought that my mother was just an enabler of my step parents narcissistic behavior…what an interesting and eye opening read!!
    I have often wondered why my mom would allow me (her only child) and herself to always be the victim of step parents narcissistic rage and emotional abuse, now I see it’s not just enabling, but fulfilling her own inverted narcissistic supply.
    Alex thank you so much for your well written articles they are all great, but this one was a true epiphany moment for me.

  2. The material on this website is by far the most well written I’ve ever seen. However, I have to say there are a few inaccuracies regarding your understanding of the inverted narcissist. First, what you call an Inverted Narcissist, is someone that I refer to as an Empath. The term inverted narcissist is an inaccurate one because these type of people are highly empathic with regards to everyone, and not just responsive to or seeking out a relationship with a narcissist. The empath is not seeking a narcissistic supply, but are they do have an overwhelming need for the other partner to reciprocate the same feelings of love and devotion, something that a narcissist cannot do, and something that the Empath cannot give up hoping to receive.

    Narcissist can readily spot an empath and will always have a very strong desire to startup a relationship with the empath. This is the first stage of the relationship in which the narcissist will go out of their way to make the empath believe that the narcissist is actually a very kind and thoughtful person. Up until this point, the empath has had very little interest in the narcissist, and certainly has no idea about their true nature. The narcissist is constantly telling lies during this stage, to ensure that the empath stays interested and that the empath believes the narcissist is that perfect partner that the empath has dreamed of finding all their life.

    By the relationship reaches the stage that the empath is has discovered the true nature of their narcissistic partner, the empath has already developed very deep feelings for the narcissist. Trapped between the choice of giving up on the relationship, or remaining determined to penetrate the ice cold heart of the narcissist, the empath chooses to believe that if they hang on long enough, eventually the narcissist will recognize their devotion and reciprocate their love.

    Empaths are not attracted to narcissist, and are not happy with narcissist. For the empath, the relationship is a roller coaster trip into hell that ends when the empath no longer has the strength to endure the pain of loving someone who cannot love them back. It is now that the narcissist will sense that they have drained the empath completely. Having no further use for the empath, the narcissist rapidly begins distance himself and will abandon the relationship at the first convenient opportunity. The empath will be heart broken, and afraid of losing the narcissist, but even more afraid of what would happen if the narcissist stayed. Fortunately for the empath, like an empty soda can, the narcissist can’t wait to discard the empath into trash.

    Empaths will try to end the relationship on good terms if possible. Just like at the end of every argument they’ve ever had, the empath apologizes and accepts the blame for the failed relationship. The empath does this not because it is true, but because they understand that the narcissist is as much a victim as is anyone who ever gets close to him.

    Empaths do often find themselves looking for a partner who needs to be rescued in one way or another, but not always. Personality disorders are life long afflictions. And by that very reasoning, an “inverted narcissist” is something that simply cannot exist. No one craves to be in a relationship with a true narcissist, no one. And even if they did, they’d have very little chance of getting one. Narcissist are only attracted to two kinds of people, one is those whom the narcissist can gain things like wealth, power, and social status by entering into some type of realtionship, and the other is empaths. Empathic people love very deeply, and are keenly aware of the thoughts and emotions of those around them. Empaths cannot survive for very long in a relationship with a true narcissist. Any relationship with a narcissist that last for more than a few years is based on the narcissist using the other person for some type of gain, and not on the unique attraction that occurs when a narcissist seduces an empathic person.

    Well, this is my understanding of the narcissistic world, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. but give it some thought and try to Keep an open mind, and remember that scientific facts are often anything but factual.

    • Hey Gary; you’re sort of right in saying that “No one craves to be in a relationship with a true narcissist” – no one would consciously choose such a relationship but such choices are made on a subconscious level, are more related to repeating aspects of prior familial dynamics and pretty opaque and hard to unravel to the person making them at the time. Simply calling oneself an Empath is an easy way to reject the analysis this unraveling requires, leaves you somewhat innocent, merely a victim, and stifles any possible insight or growth i think – not denying such imbalances do occur, not at all trying to “put blame” on the victims of big N narcissists either, but if you find your self constantly picking such people as life partners or employers it makes sense to dig a little deeper into underlying motivations.
      I’ve done this to an extent, continue to draw parallels between my own dysfunctional childhood, my parents godawful marriage and even their own upbringings, will continue to do this as a means to understand the subsequent patterns in my personal and professional life; really painful stuff as you give up most everything you held onto as a way to explain your more immediate experience, any sense of outrage, injustice, or loss, and painful too as you’re forced to not only examine your own family history but also take a degree of responsibility for the way you deal with it. Finding youself giving up that victimhood and being led to query your own capacity for narcissism also isn’t exactly fun – again, painful stuff…
      I’ve read a lot about Narcissism recently, find much of the online lit pretty interesting in terms of diagnostic stuff (this is what they do etc ) but simplistic also in that it doesn’t explain the larger dynamics at play, glosses over why we choose these people, find them appealing, or choose to stay with them when we’re so obviously miserable and they’re so clearly awful. I find the comments often simplistic in that they dwell on the wrongs committed by the other and lack personal reflection – articles like this one promote a more wholistic view and are worth considering if you’ve been through such relationships repeatedly.
      I think I fit some of the diagnostic criteria in the OP pretty well – I don’t necessarily buy into all of the explanations and reasoning otherwise but think all this stuff is worth examining. I don’t feel particularly great about what i do see there but all knowledge of self is empowering if you apply it and the alternative, a life of misery and pain either given or received, isn’t really an option any more. Sorry, a bit of a tear with this one but it rang a bell with me somewhat.
      Good luck to you all !

      • To Gary or Alexander: How does the narcissist so easily identify the empath, or inverted narcissist? This happened to me recently( I’m an empath or inverted narcissist). But as I recall the circumstances, I don’t think I stood out in any way. I go out of my way to blend in. All I was doing was drinking a latte and reading a magazine at Starbucks. I wasn’t slouched or biting my nails or anything. The narcissist stood out to me right away as well. And all he was doing was looking at his lap top. An average looking person in a polo shirt. I won’t get into details, but he marked me right away.

    • Hi Gary, I agree with what you have written. I am an empath or I guess an inverted narcissist. I think it’s also an unconscious thing. I have been unraveling why I am attracted to Narcissists for a while and it’s been a painful journey. I think I am much improved as I currently have no relationships with any classic narcissists for the first time in my life. I am 42. I am no longer attracted to them and the high that comes from having them project their narcissism on me. I am learning to feel and meet my own needs and not to need someone to take care of. I am more able to focus on my own life and healing it rather than anyone else’s. I have a long way to go still but it’s progress. This was all helpful for me to read. Very interesting.

    • Gary,

      Thank you for bringing up the Empath. As a daughter and sister of Narcissists, I do not see myself as an “inverted narcissist”. After a failed marriage of 24 years, I was told my ex was a narcissist. The signs were all there right in front of me, but I couldn’t see them or didn’t want to. Since the divorce I have been in a few relationships and most were narcissistic. The Narcissist is attracted to the Empath so they can gain control, power and they know the Empath will submit. The last relationship lasted for 2 years instead of 24 and he is a sociopathic/narcissist. The signs were there, but I ignored them because the “love bombing” was intoxicating and almost suffocating. I believed every word he said.

      When he began to tire of me he started finding ways so I would push him out of my life. I ended up telling him he had 24 hours to get his things. I already knew he had shut me down or “discarded” me..

      I can see my part in the desire for being loved from these type of men. Since I couldn’t find that in my dad and brothers, I sought this need through men.

      In each relationship, there is a longing to show and express love, but they don’t seem to want this love. Maybe I never was able to attach to my dad because he was not able to love himself. As his daughter, I could sense this and tried over and over I tried to tell him how wonderful he is and how much he is loved.
      He has never accepted this from me or accepted this within himself.

      The fixer…


    • I agree with you 100%. Your take on Narc’s and IN’s relationship truly describe how I was in the relationship with my Narc. I relate more to being a Empaths than an IN. Your explanation to the motives and wants of an Empath speaks volumes to my wants, needs, and my reality. Thank you so much.

    • Thank you , the above made me feel so disorded! I do believe I understand that he is as much as a victim and that’s how I cope, that’s how I get my children to cope to! I tell them if he was loved properly we wouldn’t have a problem and they understand that, yes some say I should not make excuses for him but I know in my heart it is true. Yes you could call me dependant as I cannot do for them what he can do for them but I certainly don’t live in luxury or enjoy any fame etc, I just know what divorce did to me and want them to enjoy the protection and safety of having a father around so I teach them to say ‘ not my circus, not my monkeys’ while he is raging and do whatever I can to prevent them, so 15 years into this does this mean I am a mirror narc an empath etc I just love my four girls and can’t leave them with him but can’t cope alone with them, am I using them as a excuse to stay, just venting here, don’t need any answers I just do the needful, yes at the expensive of my happiness but isn’t that what motherhood is all about, it’s a thankless job sometimes but it’s my responsibility, I brought them into this world!

    • Gary,
      This article is not inaccurate. The inverted narcissist and the empath are two SEPARATE things. there may be places where they overlap (maybe the co-dependency impulses) but they are two different things. My parents are an example of a Nar and I.N. relationship, and i am an Empath.
      This sentence ““the inverted narcissist is a person who grew up enthralled by the narcissistic parent … the child becomes a masterful provider of Narcissistic Supply, a perfect match to the parent’s personality.” is what sets it apart. The empath is never looking to feel like a masterful provider (someone with power over someone else), empaths serve because they want to, its natural. Its not a way to control people.

      The inverted Nar is ultimately seeking to feel POWERFUL by having a Nar depend on them. (because if they are the supply, they can manipulate the one who needs it)

      The empath is seeking to feel LOVED by having someone depend on them.

      Inverted Nars and Nars play an equal tug of war.
      Nars invite empaths to play tug of war and the empaths drop the rope, which is why the Nars find them so interesting.

    • Gary,an inverted narcissistic is not an empath who is empathetic with everyone.Inverted narcissist shows kind n caring n submissive behaviours to a narcissist only on whom he/she has psychological and emotional dependence.Those who love an inverted narcissist,become,on the contrary,the victim of their narcissm n cruelty bcz of narcissm.Their behaviours for narcissist do not come from place of empathy.

  3. I think the “empath” paragraph is pretty accurate, though an empath surely will also have traits of inverted narcissism.

    To add to Gary’s comment, I think that empaths can just as easily get involved with narcissists as with codependents, and also that narcissists and codependents are essentially the same type of personality at heart. Codependents really aren’t the same as empaths. Codependents, like narcissists, do whatever it takes to keep someone around. It just so happens that codependents express that by doing “caregiving” things.

    Either way, both codependents and narcissists manipulate people at the expense of actually being empathetic, while empaths are probably best described as people who veer in the opposite direction, feeling other’s emotions so strongly that they don’t feel the need to be manipulative. As Gary said, they also are in tune with the narcissist or codependent’s inner insecurity, which makes it easy for them to see past the codependent/narcissist’s behavior, which results in them sticking around much longer than they should.

    Gary, if you’d be interested in talking more, leave a comment and I’ll send you a private message. I have some ideas about this that might interest you!

  4. I feel like I am kind of softer version of a co-dependant OR an inverted narcissist. You say that covert narcissists don’t let it show when they are hurt and keep perfect composure (to not make themselves look like they are dependant and be disposed of 🙂 ), is that type of great self-control really compatible with the co-dependant’s attitude ?
    The mechanic is about the same and actually, after meeting several overt narcissists, I’ve realized that I would probably never be able to take real interest and want to invest time (and jeopardize my self-esteem) with anybody else than a true narcissist.
    Not only they suffer so we are of the same kind, they think they’re shit, but they’re proud, and interesting.
    And they give you a mission.
    What more could you want ? And at least they’re not cheesily sincere (if you hurt them, you don’t feel like you have blood on your hands and you’re only worthy of dying – know what I mean ?)
    Also, they allow you to have a last shot at trying to be loved, or at least, succeed to manage someone that is like those who made you feel never happy of yourself. If you can fix this failure or manipulate them a bit you’ll be happy with yourself and even be better when the next one turns up in your life.

    I have empathy like an narcissist (intuition), and the morals that go with it (though it is very ‘intellectual’ – maybe because my parents (included the narcissist dad) always pretended to be very nice, high-standard people when it comes to morals. Unfailable left-wing voters as well, if you know what I mean. Very ‘proper’ people.)
    Through my experience of suffering, I have learnt to be nice with people because ‘people are me’.
    I have become very intelligent (is hard to say, but well…) so that I could stop making the mistakes that my dad always said I made, and I have to fix people with the understanding I have gained.
    I hate to see suffering as much as I dislike light-heartedness.
    I wish that I could live in a world where everyone is wary of what suffering others may be feeling. But are alright themselves. Solidarity and mutual carefulness. No hurting possible in those circumstances. But I have learnt to see that I could be very indifferent to some people myself.
    I try to be sharp to not inspire contempt from people and so that when I need compassion (attention) people would be glad to give it to me.

    I hate myself a little less than a narcissist hates the nothingness (or the rot) he feels he is, but I am not able to feel real love until I’m hurt, because I admire the person who is more intelligent than me and is able to take me by surprise because I control myself to much and it’s nice to feel some pain instead of some indifference.
    Maybe that pain is the closest feeling to what used to cling to my heart as a child. It’s a form of suave melancholy that then takes me.
    I feel like a child again. I am worthy of being someone’s victim.
    If I am loveable therefore I am worthy of loving. It’s securing.

    • Ok, I think I might have understood something more.
      (I’m sorry in advance for the English mistakes as I know I make them X-) )

      One book that I’ve read recently develops an interesting call the ‘Skin-Ego’.
      To describe it briefly, it says that the Psychic Ego is developed according to the development of our awareness of our physical self. This physical has an inside, an outside, and an inside skin and an outside skin as an interface.
      Narcissists are described as having a tough skin, and little left inside. They developed this tough skin as a result of an invasion of their bodies at a stage at which it cannot defend itself. Since I have read this book I have this idea that I have a very thin, fragile ‘skin’, which gives me this empathy. Anzieu says that our Skin-Ego (or Ego-SKin…) can be distorted by the presence of others, because we imagine a common skin.
      Hence the need to retreat and be alone for long periods of time for empaths, and maybe the need for narcissists, who you do not have to worry about – only try to understand, and manipulate from a safe distance, because you know you will never share the same skin – they are not human 🙂 )

      I have this feeling anyway, that all this tension with the narcissit, the manipulation that we undergo, makes us reassured about the intentions of the other to not act unless there is some consent from our part.
      Empathy is developed maybe as a way of protecting ourselves (anticipated other’s actions so we can take a distance when we feel they may be about to attempt to invade us 🙂 )
      because we have experienced that fear of invasion early on in our lives and have always been scared of it.
      It was milder, and maybe what protected us was this tension, this ‘forbiddance’ that the potential invader set himself.
      The tension deifies us a little, it re-sacralizes us when others have threatened our sovereignties over ourselves, our dignities, by not asking our permissions, etc.

      • Narcissists force us to care about ourselves, instead of caring about other people, which is a reward we never give ourselves without a tremendous amount of absurd guilt because ‘we’re not weak, we’ve had all we needed all our lives, we’re not in need of anything’, and we are gifted and intelligent, which has always made us be a threat to others, their self-love, need for attention, etc.. We are strong and need to be slown-down, in order to not be dangerous, especially in an egalitarian society in which being metaphorically a head taller than others is bad, and you should wait for them, etc.

        We’re giving ourselves a chance to be humbled, if not burned, by a healthy fire.

        Talking about myself, sorry for the ‘we’ : )

        And also we have a guilt-free reward for being intelligent.

        It’s got this perfect balance

        We’re even being useful…

      • During times when I’ve suffered heavily invasive attacks, I’ve found myself preferring superficial relationships. I am good with asserting myself and placing clear boundaries with those that I haven’t emotionally connected with. Once I gain an emotional attachment, my fear of abandonment is triggered. And I lose my ability to share all of my true thoughts and feelings paralyzed by abandonment fantasies.

        • I am EXACTLY the same in that regard. Strong…until I care for/love you. Then the intense fear creeps in that I’ll be abandoned in some way if I’m completely honest. That was the reality of my whole childhood and adolescence. Hence why I went No Contact many moons ago or I would be even more affected. Not such a wonderful legacy to be left with, dearest father with NPD.

    • so sorry to say but u have wasted ur time Nar’s don’t really want to b fixed..oh they come off as that but when u really try to fix them they get very pissed off.. so confusing u live in a world that they r always screwing something up and ur there to fix it but then they hate u for it cause they think they r perfect so after all why r u fixing them..many yrs..then one day I just got tired of no one there for me and didn’t fix his latest problem..boy did he get pissed off at that ..stumping around and sulking like the 2 yr old he is..heads u lose tails u lose. I never wanted to leave cause I didn’t think I would b able to see him with someone else..then I realized I could see myself with someone else and he no longer mattered nor what his life journey turned out to be ..only mine mattered..he was shocked I ended it as I have before but this time I truly don’t care and he knows that…I want more and he will never never b able to give it to me no matter how much love I give him.. cant teach a Nar how to love stop trying

  5. By it,s very definition narcissism is denoted by a clear lack of empathy.

    The term Inverted narcissist can not therefore be used to describe an empath.

    It is in fact an impossibility or oxymoron if you wish

    • Alan-
      Sam Vaknin has since corrected the misconception of Ns lacking empathy. On the contrary they’re quite adept at reciprocating what is needed in response to a partner’s grief. But the intent behind the reciprocity is different in that the N is seeking to secure his or her supply of inflation (ego-boosting). Healthy individuals receive this positive self esteem from an internally ​regulated process independent of external factors.

      Sam has coined the term cold empathy because it is mirroring without the ability to experience the perceived emotion of the individual. The N emulates the actions of an empathically inclined person. So the N’s partner perceives the N having the capacity to remotely experience another’s emotions. But the emotional part of the process has been busted.

      As a child, he/she could act and do just what mommy or daddy needed so he/she could in return gain praise and approval- the Ns confused perception of love. But the emotional being (true self) retreated deep inside the N. Even the N themselves could not privately identify with the true self because to do so would mean experiencing the pain of the abandonment from the parents. So the Ns ability to identify with his or her true nature was severed thereby crippling the ability to “absorb other’s emotions”. How can one empathize how another feels if one is unwilling to experience one’s own suffering?

      Whereas healthy partners ideally give and receive in an unconditional manner. Giving is not a means to receive essentially. They do not view interactions with people and involvement in relationships as contractual agreements with hidden strings. They can speak their own thoughts and feelings without feeling shame. Likewise they can listen to their partner’s thoughts and feelings without experiencing their own shame. They’re completely supportive, accepting, loving, and attuned to their needs and partner’s needs. And when they’re in doubt they readily seek to find how they can meet the given need.

      Here’s a list of examples of conditionally giving:

      -if I have sex with him, he’ll give me love
      -if I financially support her, she’ll give me sex
      -if I suffer to meet her needs, she will find me indesensable
      -if I give her support (financial, emotional, physical), she will give me praise for being so kind and helpful

  6. I doubt I would ever get into another romantic love relationship. I am a 63 year old recovering, co-dependent enabler, empath. My second marrage of 18 years is with a compulsive liar and sex addict who has gone through a series of major health problems since 2010. He is 15 years older than me. I had been through counseling before I met him. I broke up with him several times while we dated, but accepted his marriage proposal. At the time I was on a good path honoring myself and others. He lied so beautifully. Dah. I have spent a lifetime gaining awarenesses and working on changing my own familial patterns, yet I am still here.

    • I can relate to this I’m 60 have a narc work colleague giving me the usual discard cycle etc exhausting my energies best served elsewhere im opening myself up to future possibilities.

  7. Very informative article.
    However, I would like to point out one minor issue.
    I see you have stated inverted narc and covert narc as the same personality.
    Covert Narcs are Narcs. They are shy vulnerable type of narcs who nevertheless have a high sense of entitlement and superiority complex. They are also called Stelath Narcs or Vulnerable Narcs. They can be more dangerous than the normal Narc or classical narcs (Overt)
    Inverted Narcs are co- dependents. They seek out relations with a Narc.
    So, a Covert Narc will seek out an Inverted Narc.

    • That is me an inverted narc I have a work colleague covert narc with schizoid overlay the cycles, mood swings, lies, deceptions, stalking, staring, manipulations, then the primary psychoticism when anger and jealousy set in which in turn revel in seeing me suffer which equalizes their emotions, seem have to soothe him like a child to calm, privacy issues at work and policies and procedures make it tricky to openly explain to others of course narcs know this and hide behind this. I attract them due to a narc mother so had to endure years of group and one on one therapy.

  8. I have recently realised that I am an inverted narcissist. Keep in mind that people don’t always fit categories as neatly as mostly plagiarized papers would intend for you to believe (I’m referring to the constant cross referencing with little bits of added info: not even that well copied for the fact that some of the typos remain). This, this is my narcissistic perfectionist superiority surfacing if you haven’t noticed. We can be just as destructive to “normal” people when in certain situations and still a get adored. Why? Because we deny our floods. Now here’s the kicker because this is my reality: how can you even think to abandon someone that was made the way they are by maltreatment in the first place? Don’t you see how I see you as the narcissistic society willing to “cut and run”?

    • Yes society needs to look at itself and its creation of “monsters”. Some parents are lousy at family planning, raising and passing this illness and maltreatment on to their offspring this viscious cycle has to stop! Yes they are to blame but what can society do about it? I believe in the future if children show symptoms the state will one day maybe 20 or so yrs plus to order parents and children to have trauma counselling if they want to rid this crap from society that is causing so much drama, anger, frustration, self doubt, distorted reality, heartache, money, wasted lives, suicide etc, list goes on. There is a wonderful book by Friedman called 100 Years From Now.

  9. I always considered myself a co-dependant love addict. When I studied both co-dependants and narcissists, I had too many checks on both sides. I came to the conclusion that I have become the perfect monster of both in the ” Inverted Narc”. The main two differences are being too self concerned and lack of real healthy empathy.

  10. For those on here that are aware that Narcissist tend to seek an Empath for Narcissist Supply I want you to consider this. Narcissists are known for their lack of empathy or ability to relate to others’ emotions especially when it comes to emotional vulnerability.

    To a Narcissist vulnerability is frightening. A weakness to be avoided at all costs. So, if you have a hard time seeing the possibility that an Empath can be an Inverted Narcissist consider the high probability that Narcissists are most likely an Inverted Empath. That is most Narcissists have been damaged or abused with some level of severe trauma that turned their high sensitivity and open trusting nature inside out. And the earlier the age this has happened or the more intense or higher incidences of traumatic experiences the more far they tend to be along the spectrum and the closer they seem to be to being NPD.

    They are often the victim of people close to them who display various traits in the B Cluster which includes include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

    Such a person often rejects any of their own Empathic abilities which could make them feel vulnerable weak or susceptible to deception or manipulation. When they see vulnerability in others, they crave that ability to trust again but they fear it more and project the weakness they feel onto you the Empath.

    This is why Narcissists are sometimes seen in the spiritual world as Dark Empaths. Because they use their abilities to control and their need for Narcissist Supply is perceived in the spiritual world as Psychic Vampires. They are seen as having no empathy because they are self absorbed and manipulative and do not seem to care about others feelings. But this does not mean they have no sensitivity or understanding of you feelings. Quite the contrary. They just use their abilities to control and manipulate rather than to be open and vulnerable to love and to heal others.

    They are Inverted Empaths. With the opposite views intentions and inclinations of most Empaths. And for that reason, they seek out Empaths for the most Narcissistic Supply. They know you have the most supply because they were once you before their soul was turned inside out.

    Once you understand all this it will become clear to you why when an Empath starts to seek out Narcissist that they have become INVERTED Narcissist because they are now a victim of the Echo Personality Disorder or fall somewhere in that spectrum. An Inverted Narcissist is horrified at the idea of a Narcissist.

    Echoism is sometimes considered the opposite of narcissism, but central to being an echoist is a fear of seeming narcissistic. They fear being the center of attention or a burden to others. Individuals like that tend to be warmhearted, to the point of overgiving and under-receiving.

    For a better understanding of all this regarding healthy narcissism in the center of the spectrum and the other extreme sides of the spectrum Echoism and Narcissism which are on opposites sides of the Narcissist Spectrum I suggest you read the book Rethinking Narcissism by Dr Craig Malkin


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