Empaths and narcissists make a ‘toxic’ partnership — here’s why they’re attracted to each other

Narcissists love drama and chaos

Shannon Thomas, a therapist and author of the book “Healing from Hidden Abuse,” told Business Insider that empaths work hard for harmony, whereas narcissists are looking to do the opposite. They enjoy chaos, and like to know they can pull people’s strings.

Narcissists manipulate empaths by stringing them along with intermittent hope. They will integrate compliments and kindness into their behaviour, making their victim believe that if they behave in the correct manner, they will get the loving person back who they once knew.

“Empathetic people have the tendency to understand that we’re all human, we all have defects, and they’re willing to be patient with someone else’s personal growth,” Thomas said. “Empathetic people will be very long suffering if a narcissist says ‘I really want to change, I know I’m not perfect.’ They have these moments where they sort of admit fault, but they never actually follow through or believe it.”

This is simply a tactic narcissists use to reel their partner back in. With empaths, it is very effective, because they want to support their partner and help them grow. Ultimately, they are just being exploited further.

The empath can form a trauma bond

The push and pull nature of the narcissistic relationship can generate a trauma bond between the victim and the abuser, where it can feel almost impossible to leave the relationship, no matter how much damage it is doing.

“With empathy comes the ability and willingness to look at ourselves and look at our own faults, and that gets taken advantage of while the trauma bond is happening,” Thomas said. “It becomes a cycle for an empath who has been trauma bonded because they start looking at themselves, and what do they need to do to change, and what do they need to do different, and what their character flaws are. It’s the perfect set up, unfortunately.”

It can be difficult to comprehend the fact your are in a narcissistic relationship at first, but there are many red flags you can look out for as you get to know each other better. Thomas said to keep yourself safe from narcissistic abuse, you should understand we are responsible for our own personal growth, and other people are responsible for theirs.

“When you meet people or are in relationships with them, you have to be very careful that you’re not doing their work, or wanting their growth more than they do,” she said. “You have to see what they actually do to get better.”

Also, realise that boundaries are healthy for all relationships. For empaths, boundaries can feel harsh, but once they are aware of the strength of saying “no,” they can protect themselves from people who are looking to take advantage of them.

“Empaths don’t have to become hard or hard-hearted to be able to be healthy,” Thomas said. “It’s important to recognise that not everybody needs to be in our lives. We’re going to come across people who we realise might not be healthy for us, and you have to be okay with letting them go.”

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