Letting go of Narcissists and Toxic People: A Guide for Empaths
Empaths are the healers of our world. The traits that define them are overwhelmingly positive: a deep sense of compassion, the ability to easily tune into other people’s emotions and develop meaningful relationships, a knack for appreciating the world around them with heightened senses.
Empaths tend to see situations (as well as other folks) in a compassionate, loving light. As they sense energy with ease, they are natural healers, and people tend to gravitate towards their good vibes.
But, as you might know, being an empath does have some drawbacks. Besides not being quite able to stand crowd situations (no big concerts for you, perhaps) because of all the concentrated and intense emotions, empaths have one main problem. And that is attracting toxic people.
Why does it happen?
What defines a narcissist? It often seems like a label that gets thrown around a lot without real meaning attached. But “narcissist” does refer to a concrete thing: a personality disorder with specific traits.
These characteristics are having an inflated image of one’s self (I am the best thing ever), a deep need for constant admiration to fill an internal void, and no empathy.
The person who has a narcissistic personality disorder is suffering, there’s no doubt about that. They need a constant flow of external stuff to make them feel seen and validated.
We don’t know why it develops. It might be genetic or it might have to do with trauma or emotional abuse when the person was a child.
Perhaps, the person who you’d call narcissistic doesn’t have the full-blown personality disorder, but they might have ‘adaptations’ that help them (to some extent) function in their relationships with others. This can be just as toxic, though.
The bottom line is, the narcissistic disorder or relationship patterns are stable and very, very difficult for the person to (even want to!) change.
A narcissist is like the opposite of an empath. You must have heard the phrase ‘opposites attract’. It’s not always true, but the narcissist is attracted to the empath like a moth to the flame.
Because they perceive the empath, with their never-ending compassion and unconditional love can feed their attention-addiction like no one else!
While the narcissist wants to use the empath’s abilities for emotion, the unprotected empath can feel a pull to ‘heal’ the narcissist.
Narcissists and Toxic People
So, when you hear your cousin or a coworker calling their ex a narcissist, there is a certain possibility that they actually have the disorder or the adaptations.
But there’s also a chance that they’re dealing with a mentally healthy person with toxic, negative behaviors.
When do you know that someone is toxic? Well, if you’re an empath, you’ll be aware pretty quickly. The signs;
- Fatigue: feeling drained while or after being with that person.
- Skin issues due to stress and negative energy
- Feelings of anger and resentment overtaking you.
- A sensation of being dirty.
- Physical pain or discomfort. You might feel nausea, a headache, or a burning sensation in the solar plexus (about where the mouth of your stomach should be).
- Losing previous feelings of joy or enthusiasm.
- Becoming judgemental and having mean thoughts: this is super out of character for an empath, so it’s a clear sign of a toxic person.
If you’re wondering why otherwise healthy people develop toxic behaviors, don’t get too upset or obsessive about it. There are a thousand and one reasons why someone could be or become a toxic individual to be around.
A common factor, though, is not doing one’s own internal work on an emotional level.
If you have lots of unresolved business on the inside that you’re trying to ignore, you’ll end up causing pain both to yourself and to both around you: you’ll become toxic.
Often, then, toxic people are just hurt or have issues that they have to face in their own heart and mind. Maybe they aren’t (yet!) aware enough to realise there is something that has to be faced.
Beware, though: this doesn’t mean it’s your job, as an empath, to heal them or fix them. Not toxic folks, and certainly not narcissists. Leave that to the trained professionals. You should be your own top priority.
The Stages of the Relationship between an Empath and a Narcissist
Narcissists will usually follow— perhaps unconsciously, perhaps less so— certain patterns in their relationship with an empath. Here’s how it often plays out:
- Over-evaluation and Attraction: The narcissist is drawn to the empath, as they perceive a new ‘target’ supply of emotional validation. They might idealize you: in their mind, as they’ve decided you’re a good supply target, you are now ‘perfect’.
- Love-bombing: The narcissist needs to draw the empath in. They might display their hurt side to get you interested in healing them.They’ll also shower you with attention: compliments, gifts, one-on-one time, physical affection, etc. Their goal is to conquer you.
- Devaluing: Once the narcissistic has obtained the love of the empath, they’ll start to become disillusioned, as they find that nothing satisfies their inner void.From the empath’s point of view, it’s like watching a mask drop. Where before there was an extreme show of affection on the narcissist’s part, now there’s only self-interest.
They might ‘run hot and cold’, alternatively.The empath’s investment in the relationship is pure, so they start to feel disoriented:
what have I done wrong?
How can I fix it?
- Abuse: The narcissist gets their kicks by breaking the self-esteem and self-reliance of the empath. They will make you feel crazy, emotionally abuse, gaslight you (twist your perception to present themselves as the victim when they’re really the aggressor), and make you feel inferior constantly.If you try to have a heart-to-heart with the narcissist, they’ll make you feel like it’s all in your head. Their goal is to make you feel like you’re not worthy of their love.
- Discard: When the empath is completely heartbroken and rundown, the narcissist will have no more use for them.They’ll finally end it— or try to keep you at their beck and call while they go do their thing somewhere else (aka go drain some other trusting person).
- Letting go or repeating the cycle: The empath, eventually, realises they were used and sees the ‘relationship’ for what it was.
Actually, the sooner you see this, the better.But, if you’ve been discarded by the narcissist, it’s not too late! You just need to protect yourself so that you won’t go through this abuse again.
So, What Can You Do?
As an empath, you have a natural gift to help you navigate relationships. It’s awesome and powerful— you just need to tune in and listen to yourself!
If you recognize the patterns of a narcissist in someone who is close (or trying to get close) to you, don’t dismiss them. The same goes for the signs you will feel in your physical and emotional body when you’re approached by a toxic person.
You need to trust your powerful intuition and the feelers you have for the energy around you.
When you tune into your empath gifts and practice being aware of the energy going through you, toxic people and narcissists can’t fool you.
As an empath, you’re compassionate, we get that. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be assertive, too.
Be compassionate towards yourself, first: before you get close to someone, get clear (maybe write in a journal!) about what your boundaries are— what will you and won’t you tolerate.
Communicating this is key. A person that is healthy for you to be around will truly listen, try to communicate their own boundaries, and respect yours. A narcissist will lose interest, as they will see you’re not an available supply.
If you already are in a relationship with a narcissist, there’s probably no point in trying to talk about the issues, as they are manipulative and will turn your words against you.
Remove yourself from the equation completely. If you want to express what you feel, write a letter and arrange for them to get it when you’re far, far away.
Rely on your friends, on those who are not using you.
A toxic person or a narcissist will always try to isolate you from those you love.
Don’t allow this: your loved ones are a safety net, and they’ll have your back if you have to get out from a negative relationship.
Stay Soft and Carry On
Every person is a gift for the world. Empaths are even more special, as they can provide the sort of healing change our wounded society needs right now.
You deserve love and respect— nothing less will do. You should not be stuck in a relationship that makes you feel bad about yourself, or that doesn’t let you grow and use your gifts.
You deserve someone who can meet you on your level. That means true vulnerability, true healing, true love.