a couple kissing. A dominant bearded make holds the others neck

The Empath and the Narcissist: 3 Stages of a Damned Relationship

Relationships differ from couple to couple. Some are destined to thrive while others are not. No matter how it begins, the union between an empath and a narcissist is a damned relationship from the beginning.

The Damned Relationship of an Empath and Narcissist

Empaths are selfless people who can go above and beyond for people at any time. They don’t do it just for the sake of doing it; they do it because they truly believe that it is their duty. They are often regarded as emotional sponges that soak up people’s energies. Empaths can also pick up on very subtle emotional changes in people, and then they react in whatever way to help the person. 

Narcissists, on the other hand, are a whole other ball game. These ones crave comfort and will not even attempt to place anyone’s needs before theirs. Heck, they would even place their wants before other people’s genuine needs. It also doesn’t help that they come fully equipped with an exaggerated self of sense of self-importance that is most definitely misplaced. [1]

Empaths and narcissists are drawn to each other

One reason their relationship is damned is because of their stark emotional diferences. These two are polar opposites, yet they seem to always find a way into each other’s arms. The empath is the unwitting victim here, whereas the narcissist is the one who plots and schemes to entrap the empath like a fly trap. 

Nevertheless, no matter how much they try (at least on the part of the empath) to make it work, “it is a relationship designed for disaster,” said Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and author of The Empath’s Survival Guide. [2] The relationship is a very toxic one because, “empaths work hard for harmony, whereas narcissists are looking to do the opposite,” said Shannon Thomas, therapist and author of Healing from Hidden Abuse. [3]

Read: How The Narcissist Gets Away With Abusing People And Come Off As A Good Person

The stages of abuse an empath endures in a relationship with a narcissist

The damned relationship between an empath and a narcissist goes through various stages that generally fall under three broad headings: Idealization, Devaluing and Discarding. [4]

1) The idealization stage

  1. First, the narcissist finds the empath and wants to ‘own’ them. The narcissist plays the role of the perfect human being. They slip into character so well that you’d probably never suspect that they could ever change.
  2. Regardless of how brilliant the empath is, the narcissist is a charming devil and will charm their way to the empath. [5]
  3. The empath thinks they found their one true love and they go for it. Unfortunately for them, they love mightily and they give it their all.
  4. Something akin to a honeymoon phase takes place; it’s all unicorns and butterflies at this point.
  5. Then, the narcissist changes their character and shows a ‘vulnerable’ side of them. They throw in subtle warnings under the guise of vulnerability, for instance, saying things such as “I don’t deserve someone like you and you deserve better.” However, the hallmark of any self-respecting narcissist is the ability to fake ‘empathy.’ They do this and succeed in drawing the empath in deeper.

Keep Reading: Choose The Happiest Couple To See How You Really Are In Relationships

2) The devaluing stage

  1. Then, out comes their true color. They begin by withdrawing attention. The empath that was once the light of their world suddenly becomes nobody to them.
  2. The empath thinks they’ve done something wrong and they try their best to fix it but only hit the block that is the emotionally manipulative side of the narcissist. These manipulations can be vicious, even in their subtlety. [6]
  3. The narcissist takes total control of the empath. At this point, they are certain they’ve gotten total control of the empath and then off comes their mask.
  4. The narcissist slowly but thoroughly cut down the confidence of their partners. They strip them down to the barest minimum till all that is left is an empty shell. They make sure to say things that get to the empath and eventually lower their self-esteem until they become a shadow of themselves. [7]
  5. Narcissists also try to change everything about their more empathic partners. They could make them cut their friends and family off. The empaths begins to wonder why their partner who claimed to love everything about them is trying to make them change. But this thought doesn’t get very far and they succumb to that part of them that loves the narcissist.
  6. Now comes the abuse: the narcissist begins to abuse their partner in passive-aggressive or sometimes more subtle ways. They criticize and chastise the empaths at any given opportunity. This gives way to gaslighting, a tactic the narcissist employs to make the empath believe they did something wrong and doubt their sanity. [8]
  7. The empath realizes that there is something wrong and try to fix things. However, the narcissist has no interest in patching things up. They are probably enjoying the pain they are causing the empaths. They also refuse to take any responsibility for the situation and instead blame the empath for everything.

3) The discarding stage

  1. Narcissists get easily bored. Once they feel like they’ve conquered an empath or that the empath is beginning to push back, they feel the need to find a new target who will feed their insatiable egos. [9]
  2. The empath will begin to wonder why they didn’t see the signs earlier, berate themselves for falling victim, and might end up depressed.
  3. Eventually, the relationship comes to its inevitable end, which the empath accepts while trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. 

Recovering from a toxic relationship with a narcissist

The most important thing the empath must do is accept that it was not their fault, it may have been a damned relationship, but that’s ok. They need to acknowledge that the narcissist is a con artist who targeted and manipulated them thoroughly.  The empaths have a long road ahead of them to rebuild themselves, but it is possible. They can ask for help from family and friends or seek professional help. [10] At the end of the day, the empath will heal completely and be fine, while the narcissist will remain stuck in their destructive path until they eventually destroy themselves in the process.

Keep Reading: 6 Phrases Narcissists and Sociopaths Use to Make You Feel Crazy


  1. The Empath: The Opposite of Narcissism.” Thrive Global. Elisabetta Franzoso. Accessed January 8, 2020.
  2. “8 things to know about dating an empath, the opposite of a narcissist.” Insider. Ni’Kesia Pannell. January 31, 2019.
  4. Empaths and narcissists make a ‘toxic’ partnership – here’s why they’re attracted to each other.” Business Insider. Lindsay Dodgson. January 23, 2018.
  5. The 7 Startling Phases of Loving a Narcissist.” Psych Central. Kristina Belle. July 8, 2018.
  6. “Idealized, Devalued, and Discarded.” Thrive Global. Samantha Clarke. July 10, 2019.
  7. 8 things that can keep you trapped in a relationship with a narcissist.” Insider. Lindsay Dodgson. December 17, 2018. 
  8. 11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out“. Healthline. Gabrielle Kassel. January 30, 2019.
  9. Why Do Narcissists Abuse Those They Love?” Psychology Today. Elinor Greenberg Ph.D. August 4, 2017.
  10. Empaths and narcissists make a ‘toxic’ partnership — here’s why they’re attracted to each other”Yahoo News. Lindsay Dodgson. January 23, 2018.