Why do empaths end up with narcissists? 

It’s a tale as old as time: the caring, compassionate empath ends up with a cold, callous narcissist. The two seem like an odd match; they are total opposites. 

Despite the extreme differences between the two, the narcissist and empath always seem to find each other. The Internet is full of tales of these two connecting. 

So, why are empaths so attracted to narcissists? If we explore this dynamic more closely, it seems only natural that these two end up together. 

The empath-narcissist connection 

Empaths and narcissists appear as opposites, but they often end up together in relationships. The connection between the empath and narcissist is often intense and compelling, but also fraught with challenges.

Understanding why these two personality types end up together requires knowing the unique dynamics that draw them together. Below, I’ll explore ten reasons empaths are so deeply attracted to narcissists.

#1 The healing powers of the empath

Empaths are natural healers who have an intense desire to help others. They are therefore drawn to people who are in emotional pain or in need of support.

Because of their healing nature, empaths are drawn to the narcissist, who deep down struggles with childhood wounds and suffers through intense emotional pain.

Empaths believe they can help the narcissist overcome their issues and transform their behavior. Because they also see the good in others, they will tolerate the narcissist’s dark side, because they see the healing potential. 

#2 Ignoring red flags

The average person is likely to see red flags early on in the relationship with the narcissist, which can turn them away. 

The empath, on the other hand, is quite different. In fact, empaths will likely idealize their partners and overlook their red flags. Instead of fixating on the narcissist’s flaws, empaths will usually focus on the narcissist’s positive traits.

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Not only do empaths ignore red flags; they hold onto hope that their love and support will inspire the narcissist to change. This keeps the attraction going.

#3 The narcissist’s reliance on external validation 

Narcissists need constant validation and admiration to survive, and empaths are more than willing to provide it. In some respects, it seems like the narcissist and empath are a perfect combination, because empaths strongly desire to give love and support.

Over time, the narcissist’s need for validation, combined with the empath’s need to give it, creates a symbiotic relationship. Both partners benefit; the narcissist receives the validation they need, and the empath feels needed and valued.

#4 Narcissistic charisma

The narcissist’s charisma is at full volume during the beginning stages of a new relationship. The narcissist is quite skilled at presenting themselves in a way that seems both appealing and captivating.

Empaths in particular are sucked in by the confidence and allure that narcissists give off, and they quickly fall in love with their narcissistic partner. The narcissist’s personality comes across as almost magnetic to the empath, who cannot help but be drawn in. 

#5 The empath’s pain tolerance

Empaths can tolerate significant emotional pain and discomfort. They endure the most unpleasant situations in the hopes that they will one day make a positive difference. 

Empaths have such a high tolerance for emotional pain because they are willing to sacrifice themselves and put others’ needs ahead of their own. Being able to sacrifice oneself requires the ability to cope with intense emotional pain.

All of this means that empaths will stay in unhealthy relationships much longer than they should, because they are so comfortable with self-sacrifice. This makes the empath an excellent partner for the narcissist, who needs a mate willing to endure hell. 

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#6 Lack of boundaries in the empath

Empaths are not particularly skilled at setting and maintaining boundaries with other people. Because they can feel others’ pain, they have difficulty saying no, especially when caring about someone.

The narcissist is more than willing to exploit the empath’s lack of boundaries. They will see no problem with taking advantage of the empath’s willingness to give endlessly and accommodate their needs. 

#7 Narcissistic manipulation 

Narcissists are master manipulators, and they can manipulate in a way that is very appealing to empaths.  One particular tactic they use that the empath quickly falls for is love bombing. 

Love bombing is a tool that a narcissist uses to create an overwhelming sense of connection in the early stages of a relationship. Love bombing involves showering a new partner with attention and affection, making them feel like your ideal soulmate.

When narcissists love bomb an empath, a quick connection develops, as the empath is likely to be drawn to this emotional intensity.

#8 The narcissist’s controlling nature

People with narcissistic personalities thrive on being controlling and dominant in their relationships, as this makes the narcissist feel superior. 

Narcissists need to engage with people willing to give into their demands and their need for control. It turns out that empaths are willing to comply with the narcissist’s demand for control, because empaths prioritize harmony and are conflict-avoidant. 

Since empaths are willing to submit to the narcissist’s control, they are an ideal match for the narcissist.

#9 Empathy and understanding

As their name suggests, empaths are empathetic and understanding, which makes them more forgiving of a narcissist’s flaws. The ability to forgive is essential if one is to have a relationship with a narcissist, because the narcissist will commit many wrongdoings. 

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Because of their understanding, the empath will recognize that the narcissist’s behavior arises from trauma or emotional pain. This makes the empath an ideal match for the narcissist, because the empath will stay in the relationship endlessly to offer additional support. 

#10 The narcissist’s abandonment fears

Narcissists may be outwardly confident, but they have deep-seated insecurities beneath the surface. Because of their insecurities, narcissists are terrified that their partners will abandon them.

The narcissist’s abandonment fears also lead them to seek partners who are willing to stay with them, even in the face of challenges. Since empaths tend to be loyal and committed partners, they will stand by the narcissist, even when things get difficult.

The problem with the empath-narcissist connection 

Empaths and narcissists are naturally drawn to each other. The empath is captivated by the narcissist’s charm, and the narcissist sees the empath as someone who will be caring, understanding, and loyal.

Empaths are also more than willing to meet the narcissist’s need for validation and admiration, and being in a relationship with someone who has an insatiable appetite for attention makes the empath feel needed. 

At face value, this seems like the perfect relationship. The empath understands the narcissist and is willing to be patient amidst the challenges. The problem is that empaths will stay with narcissists for far too long, subjecting themselves to ongoing abuse once the relationship becomes toxic.

The empath will hang onto the relationship until they are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, because they are so convinced their love and healing nature will change the narcissist.

Unfortunately, true healing is unlikely, and the empath rarely escapes unscathed. 

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