Are you an empath? Have you ever interacted with a narcissist before? Anyone who is an empath can attest that empaths have a high tolerance and a high drive to help and save people. A fact that becomes more pronounced because of the empath’s sensibility to other people’s emotions.
Anyone who has dealt with a narcissist before can confirm that they may seem charming but manipulation, energy-draining, and abuse are often part of the narcissist’s dynamic. It is not a good place to be especially if you’re an empath. But it is difficult to leave due to the mental and emotional gymnastics the narcissist does to keep their victim in a state of emotional control.
Empaths are the narcissists’ preferred source of fuel and energy because empaths are easily manipulated through their compassion and sensitivity.
This is why many people remain in relationships with narcissists for many years. But these relationships are also difficult to leave because the person or empath is unwilling to face certain truths about themselves and the narcissist that will shatter the illusion and fantasy they have created with the narcissist.
Unfortunately, these truths need to be addressed sooner or later if there is any hope for the empath to get their life back on track. For this reason, we have gathered six truths that empaths must acknowledge about narcissists and themselves to free themselves from the narcissist’s hold.
This article is for educational purposes only, and it is not intended to diagnose or treat anything. If you need help or advice please seek help from mental health professionals. And now, onto the list.
1- Your needs will not be met and the Covert Contract
Have you ever looked up videos or information on empaths and narcissists? Have you noticed that in those videos, most of the time, they don’t say anything intrinsically negative about empaths?
This can be a problem. Empaths, much like any other person, are humans that have their own internal issues and problems. Glossing over these difficulties makes the empath believe that they have nothing or little to work on in order to become a better version of themselves. It also makes it difficult for the empaths to break away from a relationship with a narcissist.
This is what Abdul Saad, a clinical psychologist in Australia, brings to light in one of his videos about empaths.
“Many of the videos on YouTube on the empath-narcissists dynamic are very one-sided”, says Saad, “They fail to address some of the underlying issues the empath has that sets them up for being logged into pathological relationships with narcissists.”
The underlying issue that Saad is referring to is the belief that empaths have that if they do something good for someone then that other person should do something good for them in return. And that they do not have to tell this other person this as it is supposed to be implicit knowledge.
“Although on the surface the empath is not giving to get, beneath the surface the empath, very often, enters into what’s called covert contracts with people”, says Saad, “There are certain unwritten rules that are in operation when the empath is giving.”
These unwritten rules are difficult for the empath to acknowledge because they feel unworthy of having needs.
Regarding the unwritten rule, Saad explains how the empath thinks:
“The empath has a false assumption and a core belief”, says Saad, “that states that ‘If I am good to you, if I love you and give you what you need, then you will love me and give me what I need without me having to ask you for it. Without me having to make my needs known to you’”.
The key part, says Saad, is the last part where the empath doesn’t want to make their needs known.
“It’s the empath’s pathological denial of their own needs, their willingness to self-sacrifice that makes them the ultimate prey for the narcissists”, says Saad.
According to Saad, empaths feel that their needs are illegitimate and cannot be said, acknowledged, or made known straightforwardly, instead, they need to be covertly fulfilled with silent contracts.
“The niceness of the empath is often only skin-deep”, explains Saad, “because beneath the niceness, typically, is resentment, hostility, and anger for the unmet needs”.
With a narcissist, the needs will never be met because the narcissist does not truly care about the empath. They are only looking for a source of energy that the empath willingly gives because it is triggered by the narcissist by their own manipulation and leading them on.
“But paradoxically”, Saad continues, “the empath will block all attempts to have their needs met because deep down they believe that expressing their needs will make them bad, selfish, defective human beings”.
These beliefs stay with the empath on all of their relationships with and without narcissists. And the cycle of not having their needs met and becoming resentful continues. On occasions having the empath blow up and try to force the other person to give them what they need.
In order for the empath to heal and have healthier relationships, Saad states that it is important for the empath to look at these underlying beliefs, face them, heal them and start speaking up more.
The truth is that the empath’s needs nor anyone else’s needs will be met by staying silent and expecting others to read your mind. No one is the same, not everyone has the sensibility to sense what other people need as empaths do.
So it is imperative that empaths not only work on their self-worth and self-esteem but also on speaking out their needs, wants, and desires to other people in a kind and respectful manner. It is also important to speak and stand up for yourself when you have felt your boundaries crossed, you do not feel good or you did not like something.
2- You can’t save them
Have you ever thought that you could help a person if you only gave them something? For many people that may be the case but not for narcissists.
Although narcissists, just like any other person, do need healing they will not accept it. At least, not in the way that you expect and want them to.
The narcissist will accept the energy you give them but only feed and leech off of it giving nothing in return. This is because narcissists do not want to be helped or healed. Some don’t even consider themselves to be broken. Which leads them to not seek help at all. Narcissists are fine with the way they are. Even if they put up an act, they truly don’t want your help, they want your attention, love, and energy to feed their ego.
You can’t help or save someone who doesn’t want to be helped or saved. To accept help a person first needs to acknowledge that they need help in the first place. Then they need to decide to, not only seek it but also accept it and integrate it.
In here lies the decision to change. When you acknowledge that you need help, it is also an acknowledgment that something needs to change, usually, something inside of you for the outside to change as well. Narcissists do not want to change, instead, they will try everything in their power to remain steadfast on their own beliefs while manipulating and shaping others for their own needs and entertainment.
This is the reason that empaths cannot save narcissists. Narcissists will never accept to be saved because they don’t think there is anything wrong with them or they are comfortable with how they are. Therefore, they don’t seek or want to be changed or be saved.
3- Emotional thinking keeps you trapped
Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Therapy, explains that emotional thinking is whenever someone concludes that their emotional reaction to something defines their and its reality. Any observed evidence is disregarded or dismissed in favor of the assumed “truth” of their feelings.
With emotional thinking, a person may feel the exact opposite of what is presented in front of them. A few examples of this are presented by Leon F. Seltzer P.h.D., a psychologist and writer for Psychology Today, in his article What’s emotional reasoning and why is it such a problem?.
One example that Seltzer depicts is related to the feelings of worthlessness.
“Despite having in various ways demonstrated that you’re as worthwhile as anyone else, you remain convinced that you’re somehow worthless—for you can’t overcome core feelings of worthlessness”, Seltzer says.
Another example described in the article is one about not feeling intelligent or smart enough.
“You feel stupid”, says Seltzer, “so you’re convinced you must be dumb, regardless of the fact that your grades in school were as good as (or better than!) others and, as an adult, you’ve achieved at least as much as those around you”.
Besides making you believe that your feelings make a thought or situation true, the problem with emotional thinking is that it makes you turn away from facts and evidence.
Narcissists know that empaths basically run on emotion, so they enter through your emotions and keep you emotionally thinking so you don’t see the reality of the situation.
To Kevin, creator of the Royal We a platform dedicated to helping people understand and heal from narcissistic relationships and abuse, a person’s relationship with a narcissist is completely emotionally based.
“Narcissists take residence in your life through your emotions”, says Kevin in his video about emotional thinking and narcissism, “Narcissists take control and power over your life through your emotions, and you have a hard time getting the narcissist out of your life because of your emotions”.
Kevin, who has suffered narcissistic abuse from his inlaws, explains that narcissists gain entrance into a person’s life through that person’s emotions. He gives an example of a covert narcissist, who triggers or pulls emotions out of you by seeming down and complaining.
“They’ve (the narcissists) have had so many troubles and things happen in their life. They complain and when you meet the narcissist, this usually triggers compassion in you”, says Kevin.
At any given point you might start thinking about the facts that you do know or don’t know, and questioning the narcissist. When the narcissist finds out or senses that you’re questioning them they become afraid that you might figure them out and try to push you back into the emotional trap they want you in.
“Narcissists what they do is they pull you back in”, says Kevin, “ by saying something like: ‘No, no, no don’t talk to that witch’, ‘No, no, no, I don’t want you to meet my parents’”.
Kevin continues, “They are pulling you back from using wisdom, back to emotion. Instantly it tugs on your compassion string and you forget about wisdom. You no longer want to know the facts because you’re overcome with compassion. And from your compassion, you start to feel for the narcissist”.
This is the reason why emotional thinking keeps you trapped in a relationship with a narcissist whether they are still physically with you or not.
Feeling emotions is not a bad thing, but when emotions overcome your entire thinking process and don’t let you see outside of them at what’s in front of you, it becomes a problem because you can be manipulated through that.
4- Narcissists are disordered and morally bankrupt
Have you ever met someone morally bankrupt? If you have dealt with a narcissist you probably have. Narcissists are often called disordered and morally bankrupt because they do not think or care to uphold what normal people call morals.
They will also keep you on edge as to what they will do or who they will be next. This mostly happens when they are not getting their supply met or are trying to reign you in again.
According to HelpGuide, “narcissists never develop the ability to identify with the feelings of others—to put themselves in other people’s shoes. In other words, they lack empathy. In many ways, they view the people in their lives as objects—there to serve their needs”.
Narcissists don’t care to uphold morals nor do they think they are important because they never learned how to feel compassion. While they do feel emotions, most of the emotions they feel are always emotions directed to themselves and not to other people.
They are self-centered and arrogant, often looking down at others because they don’t have the ability to feel for others so they don’t care.
Because they lack understanding, narcissists see many things and people as inferior to them including your likes, needs, wants, hobbies, etc. They only need you in order to get their narcissistic supply which they get a lot off from empaths since you are the ones with compassion and emotion to spare.
Narcissists need this supply of attention, praise, admiration, and care because it keeps them from looking into their own feelings of insecurity. Which they try to hide by making an idealized image of themselves that runs on other people’s energy.
“Because they consider themselves special, narcissists expect favorable treatment as their due”, says an article on the HelpGuide, “They truly believe that whatever they want, they should get. They also expect the people around them to automatically comply with their every wish and whim. That is their only value.”
Once you stop inflating their ego, you are of no use to them anymore.
5- It’s all a fantasy, it’s not real
An empath’s relationship with a narcissist is all a fantasy. It is a fantasy firstly because the narcissists themselves live in their own fantasy world.
“Since reality doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves, narcissists live in a fantasy world propped up by distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking”, says the HelpGuide, “They spin self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, attractiveness, and ideal love that make them feel special and in control”.
If the fantasy is threatened they use denial to keep it alive.
“These fantasies protect them from feelings of inner emptiness and shame, so facts and opinions that contradict them are ignored or rationalized away”, HelpGuide states.
The second reason the relationship is fantasy is that the empath lets themselves be fooled by the narcissist’s fantasy and manipulated into their own fantasy of hopefully saving and being reciprocated in love, with neither coming true.
In their own fantasy, an empath may believe many things like the narcissist being their soulmate or twin flame. Unfortunately, they are not. Narcissists are just abusive people.
If you still hold on to the notion that you two are meant to be together, we invite you to think of it this way. If they are your soulmate or twin flame, then they are most likely your karmic soulmate or your karmic twin flame. Two souls that teach you exactly what love is not and what to avoid in the future.
If you are feeling manipulated, exhausted, like you’re doing all the work in the relationship, gaslighted, like you’re not getting what you need, abused, then it is a toxic relationship and it is time to get out.
6- The fact that they abused you means that whatever came before wasn’t genuine
Have you ever wondered why someone who loved you would hurt you in such a way? Well, the truth is, if it’s a narcissist, they never loved you in the first place. Or so explains HG Tudor, a YouTuber who shares information about narcissism, their dynamics, how to break free, and their point of view, as well as gives consultations on how to deal with narcissists.
“One of the things that you need to accept, which will enable you to free yourself from the grip of the narcissist is to understand that somebody who has abused you could never have loved you”, says HG Tudor.
A narcissistic psychopath himself, HG Tudor explains, in a video about escaping narcissism, the reasoning behind the narcissistic abuse and why narcissists never liked or loved you even if they were “nice” to you at some point in the relationship.
“It doesn’t matter whether that love was romantic, familial; whether it was a case of that person demonstrating favor, affection, liking you, perhaps in a social or work setting”, Tudor explains in his video, “Anybody that has engaged in a habitual pattern of abusive, unpleasant, degrading, denigrating behavior means they have no emotional empathy. And therefore they could not have liked all of you in the way that you thought had happened.”
Tudor also goes into why the empath cannot accept this and is stuck in a cycle of abuse, emotional thinking, and addiction to the narcissist.
“Many people struggle with this idea, driven by a lack of understanding about narcissism and their own emotional thinking, they arrive at the conclusion that maybe some of it was real”, says Tudor, “Or they think that what happened, in the beginning, was genuine and something must have gone wrong.”
Unfortunately in a narcissistic relationship nothing has suddenly gone wrong. As Tudor explains, it was never “right” from the start.
“You’re being misled”, states Tudor, “There is no such thing as part-time narcissism. We are always narcissists. And whether we are interacting with you or even thinking about doing so, manipulation will be taking place. Sometimes it’s a benign one and sometimes it’s a maligned one but the manipulation will be there”.
Tudor continues, “It is necessary to understand that, it isn’t the case that when we were nice to you we weren’t being manipulative and it was genuine. It wasn’t. You were still being manipulated but you were being manipulated in a benign manner.”
According to Tudor, narcissists will always manipulate due to their lack of empathy. This same lack of empathy is what drives them to try to control empaths every step of the way, from the beginning to the end of their relationship.
“It wasn’t the case that everything was ok and something just went wrong but it can be remedied. It was wrong from the very beginning”, says Tudor about the narcissist and empath relationship, “It was wrong because we created an illusion, it was wrong because we lied to you either willingly or knowingly, or unconsciously.”
Unfortunately, this means that the love or liking you thought the narcissist had for you was never real. And that, for anyone, is hard to accept.
“That love doesn’t exist, it never did exist, it never will exist because you’re dealing with a narcissist”, Tudor explains, “It was fabricated, manufactured, created, synthetic. It was the trappings and appearance of love but without the emotional empathy that is the substance of what love is.”
Although hard to accept and see, these six truths are some of the things empaths need to acknowledge about narcissists and themselves in order to move forward, start living a healthier life, and heal themselves.
Did you resonate with any of these points? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
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Saad, A. (2017, July 21). The unconscious belief the empath must face to break free of the narcissist. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwZ4OR_mioI&t=54s
Seltzer, L. F. (2017, June 21). What’s “Emotional Reasoning” – And Why Is It Such a Problem? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201706/what-s-emotional-reasoning-and-why-is-it-such-problem
Smith, M., & Robinson, L. (2021, October 26). Narcissistic Personality Disorder. HelpGuide.Org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder.htm
The Royal We. (2018, May 20). NARCISSISTS AND EMOTIONAL THINKING. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEDoK0vn5-s
Tudor, H. G. (2021, January 5). Accepting This Frees You From the Narcissist. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfv9SY09suQ