There is no greater connection of opposites than the relationship that sparks between a narcissist and an empath. Manipulative and abusive, the narcissist is a stark contrast to the generous, emotional and caring empath, a dynamic that most would struggle to understand at best, however, these relationships are extremely common.

Kind, sensitive and nurturing, empaths focus more on the needs and desires of those around them than they do their own. This selflessness attracts the selfish and manipulative narcissist, recognizing that this is a relationship in which they will never have to worry about whether or not they are being made the top priority.  They aren’t concerned about the feelings of their empath partner, in fact, some may argue they aren’t even aware their partner has feelings!

A rollercoaster of emotions, here are the 23 stages of a relationship between an empath and a narcissist:

Masters of manipulation, the narcissist wears a mask as they meet someone new. They come across as emotionally intense and magnetic, drawing others in. This emotional intensity is a vibe that quickly attracts the empath.

At the onset of the relationship, the empath feels emotionally fulfilled, their heart bursting simply due to the fact that they have ‘found someone,’ without acknowledging that the narcissist isn’t working with their partner to build a deeper relationship. Blinded by their initial attraction, the empath feels loved just by being in the presence of their narcissistic partner.

The narcissist continues to manipulate the situation, creating the illusion of a perfect romance. Buying into this idea, the empath believes they have finally found that one special person, the type of relationship that others will search for their own lives.

The narcissist gives off the impression that they, too, want this relationship as deeply as the empath. The truth, however, is that they have no interest in the relationship itself, but are happy to find someone who is willing to give over complete control, allowing their life to revolve around the narcissist.

Careful not to completely give away their true personality, the narcissist will begin to tear the empath down slowly, calling their worth and value into question. This will be done passive aggressively with phrases like ‘I don’t want to hurt you but…’ or ‘I’m only saying this because I love you…’ allowing the narcissist to slowly gain control over the empath’s thoughts and self-confidence.

In an effort to solidify the attention of the empath, the narcissist will continue to play the victim. Bringing up events of their past or circumstances that they are currently facing, they will paint a picture of being dealt a ‘bad hand’ in life. This will play to the empath’s unending compassion, as they will want to care for their partner and make up for everything that they have had to face.

The innocence and naivety of the empath will play right into the hands of their narcissistic partner. They possess a genuine heart that can’t begin to imagine that there is anyone out there with the ability to view life and others with such a cold, manipulative approach.

Slowly the empath begins to recognize that their relationship revolves entirely around their partner, with no care or consideration for their own needs. While they are unhappy in the relationship, they avoid conflict in an effort to continue being liked.

The empath continues to pour their heart and soul into the relationship, investing time, energy and affection into their narcissistic partner. The narcissist feels as though they are completely in control, which creates the impression, to those outside of their relationship, of the perfect, happy relationship when they are out in public.

The empath eventually will hit a breaking point, no longer willing to put up with the manipulation and control of their partner. They have finally come to realize that their needs are also important, and it is ok to demand that they are also met. To the narcissist, this comes across as selfish, and it upsets them.

The narcissist is desperate for attention, to the extent that they will never receive enough to fill all of their needs. Their empath partner is unaware of this, still believing if they just ‘work a little bit harder’ they can keep their partner happy.

In an attempt to take back control the narcissist accuses their partner of being over-dramatic in their claims that the relationship is one sided. They continue to manipulate their partner’s thoughts – accusing them of being crazy or making things up.

Lost somewhere between reality and the version of reality that the narcissist is creating, the empath becomes confused. They begin to believe the claims of their partner, questioning their worth and blaming themselves for the way that they are feeling.

The empath becomes so deeply entrenched in the manipulations of their partner that they are unable to see beyond the lies. Regardless of what may happen, and what evidence may exist to show that their narcissistic partner may be in the wrong, they still can’t help but take on the guilt.

The empath will make repeated attempts to speak with their partner about the situation, however, each time that it comes up the narcissist will spin their words, using them against the empath. Justifying their every behavior, the narcissist will continue to shift the blame back onto the empath.

Hurt by the apparent lack of concern from their partner, the empath will begin to reflect on their situation, and what choices they have made to reach this point. This self-evaluation will be the first step in a process of growth and change.

Despite recognizing that they are being treated unfairly, the empath will continue to try to ‘fix’ their partner. Their natural desire to heal others will outweigh their upset and frustration with their relationship, instead convincing themselves once again that they were brought to this relationship for the sole purpose of helping their partner.

After repeated attempts to fix their partner, the truth will eventually hit home. Against everything they have ever believed the empath will now accept that not everyone deserves their love and attention. They will begin to open their eyes to the manipulative and dark side of their partner, acknowledging that this does exist in the world.

The weight of their relationship begins to weight down on the empath, realizing that the situation they are currently in is not one that they can continue to live in. They will begin to try to convince their narcissistic partner that they both must change in order for the relationship to continue.

Eventually, after repeated attempts, the empath will acknowledge that the narcissist is never going to change their ways. The empath will begin to take steps to heal and grow themselves, connecting with an inner strength that had previously been broken away by the narcissist.

Refusing to believe that they have to make any change in their life, the narcissist will continue in their daily activities as if nothing has changed. They will continue to believe that they have done nothing wrong, and the empath is merely ‘creating something out of nothing.’

The narcissist will acknowledge that they have lost control and move onto their next victim.

The empath will continue to grow, change and develop. Having now discovered a new, stronger side of themselves, they will rise up. Wiser and more experienced, they will continue to move forward in life however they will be far more cautious about who they will invest any of their time and attention into.

Inspired by an Essay Written by Brianna Wiest. 

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