When a DARK Empath Meets a TRUE Empath

Hey, Psych2Goers! Welcome back to another installment of this mini-Dark Empath series we have going on! As we know, dark empaths (DE) are a bit newer to the mental health scene. There isn’t a lot of research on their behaviors, but we do have a definition of a dark empath. In order to be categorized as a dark empath, the dark triad (narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) must be present in their personality. This means a dark triad has an inflated sense of self-importance, doesn’t care about the thoughts/feelings of others, and manipulates and is dishonest to others.

So, what is a TRUE empath? A true empath (TE) is someone who understands and is able to identify feelings in others. On top of that, a true empath can also take on those feelings and feel them themselves. This isn’t intentional 100% of the time, and sometimes, they aren’t sure if they feel this way or are picking up someone else’s signal.

The setup. A DE and a TE are on a road trip, stuck in a confined spot for an extended amount of time. What will happen? Will they make it?! Find out next time on… just kidding! Let’s take a look at what happens when a DARK empath meets a TRUE empath.

Side note: As mentioned, there isn’t much research on dark empaths. The article is based off of the existing research, as well as personal opinion and theory. This article is also meant for informative purposes and is not meant to diagnose anyone or be a substitute for medical/mental health assistance.

The TE is Aware They’re Dealing With a DE.

DEs thrive in manipulation to make others feel inferior to themselves. This is driven by that need to be the most important and not caring about others’ feelings. However, a TE may be able to pick up on the dark triad. Once a TE figures out that the dark triad is present, they may understand the DE’s need to be center stage. From here one of two things will happen:

a) The TE will call the DE out and not stand for any manipulation, or

b) The TE will understand the dark empath won’t be able to function without acting this way and allow it to happen.

No matter which happens, the TE is always aware of the DE’s tactics and is never taken by surprise by them.

Emotions Between the Two May Escalate.

In 2017, Paul Bloom conducted a study on empathy. In this study, he wanted to find out what role empathy plays in our moral decision-making process and actions. He found that empathy is highly involved in behaviors meant to help others. However, empathy can also provoke cruelty and aggression. It can also lead to burnout and exhaustion in the TE from all the extra feelings they’re feeling. With both types of empaths having the tendency to be act negatively towards others, it’s possible that these feelings and emotions may escalate between the TE and DE causing a very rocky or extinct friendship.

The TE Becomes the DE’s Audience.

As a performer, I love me an audience. Whether I’m dancing, teaching a class, or just reading aloud, I love to be in the spotlight. Because narcissism is present in a DE, they love an audience, too, and what better audience is there than an empath.

When the DE begins telling their anime backstory of their childhood and how they came to be this way, the TE will feel those feelings. Sometimes, the DE will feed off of the TE’s reactions to continue the momentum of their performance which continues the manipulations and feeds the need for attention.

The TE May Try to Fix the DE.

When you’re a TE, it’s super important to learn how to use your gift of empathy properly. As TEs, we are sometimes taught that we need to fix it when something is wrong or a loved one is unhappy. Typically, we see this in a parent/child relationship where the parent makes it the child’s responsibility to fix their negative emotions. The TE will internalize this responsibility and carry it over to their relationships later in life.

The same would apply if a TE met a DE. The TE may see, feel, and understand all of the turmoil felt by the DE. If the TE has the caregiver compulsion, they may want to help them fix it, when the DE has no intention of this.

When you’re the empath, you feel everything, and you feel it pretty intensely! In my opinion, it’s very important for a TRUE empath to learn how to identify different personalities. As an empath myself, being around others can be draining. Being around a dark empath would suck the life out of me like a Dementor! Was any of this shocking to you? Have you been in this type of situation before? What did you do? Feel free to share in the comments below! As always, keep an eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content!

Have a wonderful day!

Curious if YOU’RE a true empath? Check out 10 Signs You’re a Genuine Empath

The references used in and to compose this article are listed below.

Bloom, P. (2017). Empathy and its Discontents. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21(1), 24–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2016.11.004

Brenner, G. H. (2020, August 1). Introducing the dark empath. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/experimentations/202008/introducing-the-dark-empath-0

Bubandt, N., & Willerslev, R. (2015). The dark side of empathy: Mimesis, deception, and the magic of alterity. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 57(1), 5–34. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0010417514000589

Campbell, L. (2021, June 17). Are you highly attuned to other people’s emotions? you might be an empath. Verywell Mind. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-empath-and-how-do-you-know-if-you-are-one-5119883

Matthews, A. (2020, February 12). The empath and emotional abuse. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/traversing-the-inner-terrain/202002/the-empath-and-emotional-abuse

Reynolds, J. L., & Schrader, J. (2019, January 12). Having empathy and being an empath: What’s the difference? Psychology Today. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/human-kind/201901/having-empathy-and-being-empath-what-s-the-difference

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  1. My normal daily self is upbeat, happy, smiling for no reason, carefree, all while overthinking everything. Yes I have low times but not much gets to me. My husband is the dark side of the empathy spectrum. I’ve researched for years to figure out what mentally was wrong with me or him. I even thought my house had a negative something that caused me to go from my normal self to this angry and bitter person that I didn’t recognize or like at all. Recently I found out about the dark empath and it clicked. I did a test. After being away from him for a while (separated) I went back to being around him for small amounts of time to the last time was over two hours. When I left I had this anger inside that I had no reason for. It took me two days to shake it. I absorb the feelings of others but I learned how to differentiate between what was mine and what I didn’t own. With my husband, I literally had no idea what I was dealing with. Possessed house? Ghost? Demon? Was I just a nut job around him?
    I remember him coming home from work. I had the best day. I felt amazing and cleaned our house like I had ocd. When I heard his truck pull in I was excited that he was home. He came in the house and it didn’t take me long before I was in a negative mind set, looking Around the house and finding what I didn’t do instead of what I did. I changed around him. In so many ways I lost myself. Now that I am able to understand the difference I do wish I had been armed with the knowledge all along. 15 years later and I’m back to myself.
    Learn about yourself and your true emotions before you drive yourself mad isolating yourself with a very angry dark empath.

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