The Empath/Narcissist Connection

Posted January 27, 2019 in Empath Empowerment

In my work as a Marriage and Family Therapist and during Soul Sessions, I have heard countless stories from my empath clients about falling for the charismatic manipulation of narcissists. As a highly-sensitive empath myself, I also have had personal experience becoming energetically and emotionally drained in narcissistic relationships. It took me years to really identify, understand and heal this common empath issue and resulted in my first book, Authentic Intuition (originally titled: Energetic Codependency).

Empaths are the perfect prey for narcissists. Empaths are (by nature) big-hearted, altruistic, super-sensitive, deep-feelers who see the best Soul-potential in everyone they meet.

Empaths feel the emotions of others in their own bodies (through the 2nd chakra or ClairSentience), making us highly susceptible to all forms of codependency. I often say empaths don’t have a problem walking a mile in someone else’s shoes (building empathy) but a problem taking their shoes off our feet after the hike is over!

Common Empath Codependency Issues:

  • people-pleasing
  • feeling drained and unclear/unable to meet your own goals
  • losing your own reality or Soul truth to friends/family/societal expectations often leading to relationships/career choices that were never a good fit
  • seeing Soul potential in another and dismissing current red flags out of a desire to heal all the ‘wounded birds’ of humanity. 

Narcissists seek out empaths because they are on the hunt for a source of ‘Narcissistic Supply’. Narcissistic Supply is when a narcissist gets a ‘power hit’ off another because they can’t recharge off their inherent connection to Source/Love/God/Universal energy. It is like using another person as your own personal battery recharger. Because of this predatory power drain, narcissist are often called energetic vampires. The depletion in life-force energy is very physically real and leads to anxiety, depression and physical health symptoms.

I have witnessed many empaths leave these relationships (or even just go on a trip) and suddenly feel clear for the first time in ages. They will often become more bright, healthy and empowered in the process of separation.

Image from Barbara Breenan’s book Hands of Light

Coming out of an emotionally abusive relationship can feel as challenging as leaving a cult. There is a long period of questioning everything you have experienced and ever known (due to the programmed disregarding of your reality known as ‘Gaslighting‘) and it is common to doubt all your intuitions while needing to reprogram your self-worth.

The Soul lessons can be intense but also highly transformational if you survive and empower your way out of a narcissistic relationship. I see often with my clients how these relationships are often an initiation to learn just where you will never give your power away again. We become fierce and clear in our own boundaries and self-worth through this inner-transformation.

Some people believe that labeling is discriminatory and we should not pathologize people by calling them narcissists or energy vampires. This may be true if the playing ground was equal but there is deep manipulation and control games that happen because of their invisibility.

Labeling has benefits to categorize and understand bevhariors. What if we refused to label consistent elevated blood sugar levels as the diagnosis of ‘diabetes’. The label helps us to identify, manage and potentially heal the illness. It is the same for mental health. Labeling should not be about making egoic judgments (i.e. “I am better than the Narcissist”) but as a tool to bring real Love and discernment to the whole situation, for all Souls involved. It does not serve a narcissist to help enable their addictive behaviors. As I often say: Sometimes you have to hurt an ego to love a Soul. If we never tell someone, or ourselves, the truth because we are scared of hurting feelings, we have made Fear our God and submitted to codependent behavior. Love is much stronger than that.

The truth is we have all, at times, had moments of energy vampirism. It can be natural, when feeling insecure or hopeless, to grab onto the light of others around us. Like someone drowning, we may reach for the swimmer next to us and inadvertently pull them under. This happens when we are overwhelmed and forget to look to our own Source of life-giving energy (Your own Soul for comfort, validation and directions). This is what a spiritual practice and Soul journaling, which I teach in my book Meet Your Soul, is about.

Yet, for some people, this insecure behavior is not contextual and they don’t grow out of it. They may have been so seriously traumatized as children that they can’t fathom another way of gaining energy, or have been born with a severe personality disorder. Healing is always possible but the famous psychologist Carl Jung frequently wrote about the number one mistake we make as humans—assuming others are psychologically similar to ourselves.

As big-hearted altruistic empaths, we often cannot fathom the motivations of a narcissist, and therefore, continually attempt to heal and minimize their actions as mere misinterpretation while disregarding our own still small voice telling us to set a boundary or leave.

It is hard to imagine others may not have the same positive intentions as ourselves and accept that someone could be so self-serving. But due to trauma or personality difference this can be the cold hard truth.

Stay tuned for my next blog on an incredible resource to help empaths avoid and heal these relationships.

I would love to hear from you on this topic. Have you had a narcissist initiation on your empath journey? What did you learn from it? Do you have any tools you employ to keep you energetically and emotionally protected and clear?

Leave a comment

  1. Sam
    Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
    WOW this is so beautifully written & timed!! I love every word.... I'm just embarking on a journey to rid a narcissist bestfriend and boss out of my life and it's taken sobriety to see things so much clearer! Funny that So much learning and realizations here, especially about valuing ones self and family over it all!! Keep the amazing content coming you defo have something special x
  2. Gina G Neumann
    Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
    Cassandra this was a very interesting and a helpful guide to understanding ourselves and even though I’m in a healthy relationship, I found it helpful.
    Keep up your fine writing and the world needs this type of help.
  3. Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
    when i went on a trip to australia from germany i found your book and it was the first time in my life that i wasn't somewhere astral/ depressed or whatever.

    I understood more and more who I am and i really love your work.

    Thank you for bringing your wisdom into this world !
  4. Colleen Byrum
    Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
    This crystal clear, descriptive, and compassionate insight into empath/NPD bonding is a gift to the world. A particularly appreciate that you also addressed the "labeling" issue in such an even-handed way.

    Thank you for this.
  5. Clay
    Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
    Thank you Elisa!!!
  6. Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
    I feel like I may be in a narcissist / empath relationship at the moment. I constantly use his absence when he disappears with no explanation, as a time to recharge. But this doesn’t always happen often. Sometimes it happens once a week and I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve this treatment and have no choice but to connect to my soul. I sometimes find it hard to connect to her nowadays because I’m sure she probably has something important to say that I’m not ready to follow...
  7. Carol
    Monday, March 25th, 2019
    I enjoyed the blog entry very much. I was married to a narcissist for almost 20 years. The poem is so totally true. I have gotten a lot lighter since divorcing him. Also, as a hospice nurse I have a hard time absorbing others pain and I can carry it around for days. Sometimes I can’t recognize my pain from theirs. I’m looking forward to reading more material from you so I can better ground myself and rid myself of exhaustion.
  8. Kate Williamson
    Friday, May 24th, 2019
    The narcissists I have met are also big hearted. I think the difference between the narcissist and their emapthic victim is the narcissist seeks to dominate and control. I have been the submissive and detached one. Control and domination is not something I desire. But I do seek to be needed and to feel the rush of seduction. Narcisists are fantastic at seduction. By working on my own healing I feel whole. There is nothing I feel needs to be filled up. I am focused on developing my soul purpose rather than finding someone to look after me.
  9. Yvette Landrau
    Friday, June 28th, 2019

    I do not know how to begin. Starting from the beginning it still hard to put into words.
    Funny, I can help others but not myself.
    I am learning so 55.
    I have a few gifts. And I do not trust anyone.
    But I heard you speak and I feel you are real and
    Not doing this for fame and glory.
    Please reach out if you can.
    Thank you orlando Florida
  10. Cherie
    Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
    I can't thank you enough for this blog. I have recently ended a 3 year relationship with a narcissist. At first it was heart breaking to move forward. After some time passed I noticed that I began to feel better. Not just emotionally but in my body & soul. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I couldn't put what had happened into words but what you described is exactly what I was going though. My only advice to others is that you need to listen to your gut. After only 2 weeks at the beginning of the relationship my inner voice said RUN ! He is Satan! But I ignored and ignored it until my inner voice stopped talking to me.
  11. Heidi
    Thursday, October 10th, 2019
    Thank you for the article. My mother was a narcissist and I the oversensitive daughter. The lack of career direction you mentioned above was interesting to read, as I struggle to find my work fit.
  12. Heidi
    Thursday, October 10th, 2019
    Thank you for the article. My mother was a narcissist and I the oversensitive daughter. The lack of career direction you mentioned above was interesting to read, as I struggle to find my work fit.
  13. Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
    Yes, definitely. I am in a narcissistic marriage for 25 years! I was 25 then. True, I had goals to finish my career as fitness instructor, met my now husband, was getting out of a divorce, thought to give love a 2nd chance, thought this was "the one". I'm 52 now, both my parents passed away, my two sisters whom I was so close to passed away too. My husband has absolutely no empathy for me when Im going through a rough patch, but if its him, omg! Alert the media! He constantly emotionally abuses me, he plays mind games, makes me doubt myself, makes me feel stupid, deaf, blind, treats me like as if I'm his older daughter and not his wife, haven't had sex in 5 years, he says its boring. His idea of respect is fear, its his way or the highway. Im to the point where I hate myself for ignoring the red flags throughout the years! I hate the person I had to turn myself into just to defend myself by being sarcastic, I have an attitude now, I am passive aggressive, just plainly put, I have tons of resentment, guilt, regret, low self esteem, because he always talks to me with contempt. But I have nowhere to go, Im disabled now. For sure he's a narcissist. I meditate, breathing exercises, counseling, therapy, yoga, biofeedback. I used to be so happy, carefree, positive, healthy. And even if I say I need time for me in my room(to meditate etc;), he comes in the room on purpose disrespecting boundaries! How can I achieve anything if he is always breathing down my throat? Im afraid of divorce, Im afraid of him. Yes, he is an emotional and psychic vampire!
  14. Jerry
    Friday, October 30th, 2020
    My journey started at 18 yrs old. I had every abuse there is for 3 yrs.
    I'm now 45 yrs old.
    In 2016 not long after my later mother passed, i was in a relationship with an old flame he managed to take everything i had, $42,000,my late daughters ashes and photos, turned my children, friends and family against me. 2019-2020 older man didn't show his true self for over a month.
    I had a voice tell me to leave, i ignored it.
    Few months later he pushed me 3 times, i pushed back.
    I decided to leave so i left a month later.
    New relationship has me extremely scared so to protect myself we will continue courting until I'm ready to live together. I'm unsure how to protect myself except try to listen to that voice
  15. Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021
    SO many lightbulbs going off for me reading this passage on empath/narcassist. Looking back, two key figures for sure. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I'm just realizing ALL those things that I thought were "my fault", likely were not. It's freeing in a way I never experienced. Lots of work to do to find more clarity, but I feel there's hope now. Getting your book. Thank you!