What is the Real Connection Between an Empath and a Narcissist?

When I started writing for the Empath, back in 2011, there was very little material available on the subject, and this is what drove my compilation of  the ‘Traits of an Empath’. I wanted to help other Empaths understand who they were and discover why they felt all they did. I also wanted to share what had helped me.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that the word ‘Empath’ was a rarely mentioned term. But we can see how that’s changed in recent years. Thousands, if not millions, have discovered who they are as Empaths with all the information now available.

However, with this Empath uprising there also seems to have been an upsurge with the ‘dark side of sensitive’. This can be observed with the rise of the narcissist and those encompassing narcissistic traits.

What Makes a Narcissist?

Although the term narcissism originally stemmed from having extreme vanity, today it represents so much more:

The definition of a narcissist is: a psychological condition characterised by self-preoccupation, high self-esteem, a distinct lack of empathy, excessive self-admiration and a tendency towards selfish or resentful behaviours. But there are many more traits associated with this type of disposition such as: one-sidedness, a manipulative nature, unrealistic expectations of others, excess need for control, and a huge sympathy deficiency. In some cases, the traits of a narcissist match up with a psychopath.

The Empath Connection

Where you find an Empath, you often find a narcissist nearby… or at least those who display several narcissistic tendencies.

In fact, if an Empath takes a look into their past they normally see a pattern of people displaying the above traits throughout their lives.

There are some who would argue that an Empath and narcissist are two sides of the same coin. And although I certainly agree that both have heightened levels of sensitivity, they are expressed in opposite ways.

An Empath’s sensitive side may breed and feed their emotional pain, but it also contributes to their consideration, compassion, and abundance of empathy.

The narcissist’s sensitive side also contributes to their inner-pain, but in many cases, their wounds bred bitter, resentful and vengeful tendencies.

And when a narcissist is offended, it is often the result of a wounded ego as opposed to a pained soul — as in the Empath’s case.

It may make you wonder why Empaths have a lifelong history of run-ins with those of a narcissistic nature… What is the connection?

  • Could it be nature’s way of finding balance, with opposing forces being drawn together?
  • Might it simply be due to the increase in hypersensitive behaviours?
  • Or is the law of attraction at work?

Although there is plausibility for all three suggestions, the latter is something we need to be aware of:

Like attracts like: sensitive attracts Sensitive

There is no doubt that the two types are both sensitive. But although an Empath and a narcissist fall under the umbrella of “sensitive” they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I first recognized similarities between an Empath and a narcissist when I happened across a post on covert narcissism. Which I wrote about here.

I had previously believed an Empath and a narcissist couldn’t be more dissimilar. But the article allowed me to discover how a sensitive streak can splinter out into diverse behaviours.

(This is a reason when I write about the Sensitive Empath I capitalize the S… To differentiate sensitive and Sensitive.)

I am convinced an Empath and some types of narcissist are highly reactive, sensitive people, but it is how they portray and integrate their sensitivities that set them apart.

A sensitive nature can be seen in kindness, compassion, and empathy, but it can also be seen in bitterness, resentments, and jealousy. And it doesn’t take much working out to figure which traits belong to which type.

The Family Connection

Another observation is that sensitivity tends to run in families. And this, I believe, is why we witness Empaths and narcissists within the same bloodline and even between siblings.

This is where we see the ‘sensitive splinters’ at work.

It is also through blood ties that many Empaths find themselves bound to toxic or narcissistic relationships.

The Silver Lining

Although there seems to be a definite connection between an Empath and a narcissist (with the narcissist often playing the part of an antagonist in an Empath’s life, causing distress and even heartache) there is normally always a significant reason.

The further I travel down this road, the more I see the higher purpose served behind the dark behaviours displayed in people.

When we endure difficulties, by experiencing challenging situations or relationships, we eventually come to realise what we need to change for our own growth and development.

We can learn so much from the bad behaviour of others. Even if it’s as simple as developing the courage to walk away, say no, believe in one’s own self-worth, or let go of the need to be in control.

[A word of advice: Avoid doing battle with a narcissist or point out their wrongdoings unless you want to open yourself up for a character assassination. They will lie and lie and lie some more. It doesn’t matter how ‘right’ you are. A narcissist does not want to hear what you say if it makes them in any way wrong. It’s always best to walk away.]

Narcissists work as catalysts on an Empath’s journey. They may cause insecurities, emotional injuries, trigger victim mentality and personal challenges, but all of which push an Empath towards great transformation.

Although difficult to accept, it is often the case that the more an Empath suffers the stronger and wiser they become.

I am not suggesting that continuous suffering is the recipe for the perfect life, far from it. But we come to a point when we understand why we endured such difficulties and see how they shaped us into becoming better people.

The time when we won’t benefit from suffering is if we become embroiled in bitterness and resentments and allow our thoughts to become vengeful. If this happens it will only serve in causing more inner-pain. But it is in our need to escape the shackles of emotional pain we are pushed towards personal empowerment.

We came here into this life for a reason, to experience both light and dark. I believe we were born to have certain encounters and everything we endure is for a purpose, both good and bad.

Empaths are meant to uncover and unleash their inner-light. There are often hurdles to overcome and dark experiences to be endured (which often includes run-ins with narcissists). But if we keep working towards it, our reason and purpose is gradually revealed, often in small increments, and the objective behind the ‘darker side of sensitive’ eventually becomes clear.

You may also find this article helpful: why people take an instant dislike to the Empath.

Hope this helps on your journey.

correct trim size for paper book version


Stay happy and healthy.

Until next time.


©Diane Kathrine



35 thoughts on “What is the Real Connection Between an Empath and a Narcissist?

  1. Hmm. I always used to wonder why ” charismatic” people were attracted to me and this sets up some pretty straight parallels. Most of these relationships ended up being toxic and as I’ve gotten older I’m a lot more careful about whoo I let in my life. This has actually included local celebrities etc. To the point of them wanting to be the center of attention even when I was talking to someone else. Very enlightening article.

  2. I have to say, that the more specific we get in describing any narcissists, the more relevant it is to note/remind us, that there are (as of everything) many variations of such people.

  3. I am a 75 year old grandmother to my/our beloved 7 grandchildren, 4 boys & 5 girls.
    Their ages range from 10 yrs to 23 yrs of age.
    My husband & I have been married for 52 yrs and have 2 beloved children, a boy 50 & a girl 48 years of age.
    I became a Sibyl after I had a brain trauma at the age of 60 and a voice said, ‘you are safe’, and the rest is in my blog. (An INTRINSIC EMPATH: Being an INTRINSIC Social ANXIETY VICTIM I didn’t confide in anyone but mt Daughter.)
    Life is so much easier being mature and settled, but my Heartaches continue for my Family’s hardships in this World of Narcissists & Poverty for the masses . . .
    Lots of Love from a SIBYL-LINE Sister.
    Sibyl X

  4. I looked up this particular post to see what a narcissist was compared to a sensitive empath.
    The names/label have been changed.
    For what it’s worth, according to my Source –
    Sensitive empaths become devastated victims when their egos get shattered.
    If they survive, their spirits will be free, with a little Help from EMPATHS etc.
    Narcissists’ self-pitying Egos (Psychotics) are not on the same spectrum as their loyal empathic victims. (Alter-Ego Psychopaths lose their minds to it.)
    Sensitive Empaths don’t have egos, they have a higher-Moral self, called a Chakra Super-ego.
    A girl can find her male Soul-mate but rarely is their a meeting of yin & yang minds.
    I think it’s because of the dominant (born of necessity) warrior y factor.
    An XY vampire says about his wife,
    ”I keep the little woman happy while she bleeds me dry”.
    She says, “What a bloody cheek he’s got, I’ll charge it to his Y”.
    Why, mentally at war are men, for dominance’s might.
    They must be logically blind as bats winging it in broad day-light.
    Sibyl X

  5. Umm hey Diane
    I am a teenager and an empath .
    This morning i was talking to my friends mother on the phone
    And i started feeling very very very restless while doing so
    I have talked to her many times in the past and we had a simple 5 min chat today
    But while talking to her i felt highly uncomfortable and restless
    And even after the talk the discomfort lingered for some time
    I am very disturbed by what happened and cant get any explanation as to why it happened

    Can you help me understand why i felt that way while talking to her ?

    • Hi Yashi,

      There could be several reasons for those feelings you experienced, but the most common reason, from an Empath’s perspective, would be that you were picking up on what your friend’s mother was feeling inside.

      People don’t always show their emotions in their voice but an Empath will generally pick up if something is off.

      If you don’t normally experience those feelings when connecting with her, something has shifted in her energy.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Pingback: The Mirror Effect Of An Empath | Shift Frequency

  7. Im an empath wilth a narcissist. And I want to die after7 yrs now with him ..just cant suiside! So I just wish for an end to take me out, While reading the Dark Side … that article just made me feel a himt of relief from feeling im insane. Thanks

    • I am so sorry to hear you are in such a dark situation.

      You are not insane. Many Empaths find themselves in these types of relationships.

      Have you joined any online Empath groups? It may help to talk with those who have been in and come through the other side of a narcissistic relationship. And knowing you are not alone in what you are going through also helps…

      If you go to Facebook or Google Empath help groups it should take you there.

      Thanks for sharing and take care.

    • Please google Melanie Tonia Evans…she has alot of free resources to help you navigate out of your situation. I too am recovering from 34yrs with a narc psychopath. It is not you at all…you will be surprised to know these relationships are almost identicle in nature. Be strong, you will get thru it. i promise you.

    • “The definition of a narcissist is: a psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, high self-esteem, a distinct lack of empathy, excessive self-admiration and a tendency towards selfish or resentful behaviors. But there are many more dark traits associated with this type of disposition such as: one-sidedness, a manipulative nature, unrealistic expectations of others, excess need for control, and a huge sympathy deficiency. In some cases, the traits of a narcissist match up with a psychopath.” ( Diane Kathrine, Empaths Life Purpose, July, 2017) My son-in-law……crap. I didn’t want to tag him but dang, this definition is just too good to let it slide. I’ll come back to this very place on my post, quoting Diane definition, because I’m pretty sure I’ll use it. Ya know?

    • SmilaZ Are you still on here and around?
      Yes, I’m an Empath but also I’m a counselor, therapist, psychotherapist (for real) and yep you just scared me nearly a year later. I hope you show back up. You are worthy. Keep that in mind.

      • Thank you. So very much for your words. …I’m here. ..unfortunatelyFORTUNATELY I’m not the type who is capable of committing the crime-to-my-soul of suicide. ..if that’s what you refer to!? I always, at the max, have been telling the skies/universe/god to take me out of here. But apparently there is no agreements to my requests.

    • Also look at Lisa A Romano, both her and Melanie Tonia Evans have helped me tremendously. I left my narcissist husband after ten years just last year. I have also read “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft which just shows that they NEVER EVER change. You have to be the change in this dynamic.

  8. Diane my email has changed to the one below. Please change your records so I continue to receive your wonderful emails

    • Hi Jenny.

      WordPress automatically sends my posts out to all those who follow the blog. I see that you’ve followed the blog with your new email address, so you should receive them as and when.

      Thank you. 🙂 🙂

  9. Thank you for sharing. I feel comforted everytime I read your article. Eventually, I know somewhere out there at least one person who truly understand what I have been experienced. There is no word to describe how thankful I am. THANK YOU.

  10. I found the hard part was adjusting my thinking from what the narc had told me (useless without him etc), blaming myself for being suckered by him, guilt of feeling relieved when the relationship was over, and not knowing who I was/am to realising I am who I am: I am a decent human trying to be better, I do have worth, I am lovable, it is ok to follow my inner voice, and honour me. Most importantly, I do not fit to societal norms; I need my space, I (now) see the real person not the facade (most times). I have also learned to set my boundaries & be a better keeper of my gate (that’s a big learning for me)
    Thanks Diane for the great writing

  11. I agree with this article. I had to change my life recently because what appears to be a sociopath got involved in my work. Curiously, I had the exact same situation happen several years ago, at the same place of work and even the person had a near identical backround and personality.

    I have had my share of vampires, backstabers and manipulators in my life. I started to reflect on this only a few years ago and realized how foolishly naive I was. All of this has rendered me distrustful and quite embittered at people in general. I feel like my heart has hardened.

    • Thanks for sharing, Will.

      The dark works hard to extinguish the light. The hardening heart is often part of the process. That and being mistrustful are self-protective coping mechanism. We put the barriers up to protect ourselves from any further hurt. When in this phase, I believe it’s the best time to start the work to undue any damage caused, and evoke one’s incredible self-worth. This is when we can find/remember our true power and allow our inner-light to radiate back out.

  12. Diane, Thank you for this insight. I had an encounter with a narcissist at work last year. Luckily it wasn’t a full time employee – just a consultant. We didn’t get a long from the very start – I secluded myself away every time he was coming in. At the end, the already bad “relationship” got worse resulting in a character assassination. I couldn’t help but to try to stand up for myself in a kind but firm way. It really back fired. One of the results of this 3 month or so encounter was continuous migraines. I really believe that I reflected back to him all the things he disliked about himself. That is not pleasant.

    This was a huge lesson learned.

    Thank you for putting yourself out there in a way that others can relate to and learn from your wisdom.


  13. Thank you, Diane! I recently figured out that I’ve been in a relationship with a Narcissist for almost 11 years and It has been a long and painful journey. As a sensitive, I have tried and tried to give this person all the love I can only to find he always wants me to give more. I then feel like I am a failure because I’m not doing enough though really I’ve been doing too much because a Narcissist is never satisfied. And they have a way of making you feel like everything is your fault. I understand now the true nature of my relationship. And it has caused me to now understand so many other people in my life. And to also know that as a sensitive I draw Narcissists like moths to a flame. Thank you again for all of the information you share. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

  14. Thank you Diane for your insightful article. It rings true for me and makes complete sense. My self being an empath and having lived with narcissistic family members . It’s great that your work is out there because it validates people’s life who are going through this experience my self included .
    Love and peace .

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