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.

  2. My boyfriend whom I have lived with for 5 years is definitely a DE. I used to think that he just had a very dark personality. I recognized the emotional draining and negativity. Just like Jennifer said below, when I am away from him I begin to feel lighter and happier. This happens almost immediately. It doesn’t even help for me to go into another room to get away from him. I can still feel it. He is the most negative and dark person I have ever met. I have to get away. I used to be so much happier and positive. I have never felt like this before.

  3. Some empaths don’t have empathy. There are some who are mean to me. Sadly to find out 2 empaths can’t get along very well. I’m a dark empath.

  4. Hi, I’m a cognitive empath myself, but not a dark one. I used my skills for building a community, for creating projects that unite people, and I’ve been doing this all my live. I learned how to deal with people by reading fairy tales, reading about archetypes, whatching archetypical movies like Star wars, Disney etc. I called it for myself that I had an artificial emotional intelligence and I got along in live until 2 years ago, when I met a cognitive dark empath. The clash was/is cruel. He kicked me out of my own company, took my place as the CEO, spread all of untrue rumours about me, so every body turned his back to me, nobody trusted me anymore. But at the end it looks like I’m winning from the dark empath, slowly but surely. His weakness is that he is afraid to be alone, and I’m not. So isolating him, just by telling what he did to me the last 2 years and showing that I am not afraid to be alone, was the way to deal with him. But for me being able to do so, I had to go very very deep. I’m still recovering from that super intense battle. And the thing is I needed to see the battle between Ray and the Empiror in Star Wars to understand what I needed to do: use his arms and reflect it to him, while I surrounded myself with people I love to be able to do so. It might sound very creepy, but I hope it is not. And the most strange thing: I had to work so hard on my personal growth to stay standing, that I became a true empath during that process… Thanks to intense EMDR therapy and inner child healing, I’m connected with my true emotions today, feeling finally other people’s emotions as well. So today, I combine both my cognitive and affective empathy, and yet again for positive creative projects that unite people… Well, at least, I’m preparing these projects, since I’m still recovering from the battle… I wanted to share my story, it might be inspiring for others as well. Enjoy a lovely day ❤️

    1. Love it!! You go girl.
      I’m an empath that just found out my bf is a dark empath.
      Wish me luck 🥰


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