Empaths are people who tend to feel and absorb other people’s emotions. Narcissists are people whose only concern is for themselves. When empaths and narcissists come together, as they tend to do, the results are typically quite ugly with the narcissist acting like a parasite feeding off the empath’s emotional acuity and good intentions. The reason that empaths and narcissists seem to be attracted to each other are usually attributed to a combination of the empath’s instinctive response to the wounded – wanting to nurture and heal them and the narcissist’s need for someone to constantly tend to their needs. Both of those are almost certainly true, but I think there’s something deeper going on here.
It seems likely to me that the reason empaths and narcissists tend to bond is because both of them are excessively keyed into other people’s emotional states and relationship dynamics. The result is that the empath and the narcissist “see” the world in very similar ways. Both recognize the underlying emotions, impulses and motivations that most people either overlook or are simply blind to. And I think that this shared ability to see people and the world more deeply than is normal which accounts for their tendency to bond. It’s just what they do with what they “see” is wildly different.
The empath will feel the emotions they see in others, often without fully registering what they are experiencing. They will then act based on their empathetic understanding of what they see, often in ways which are impulsive or not well considered. A narcissist will not feel the emotions, but they will register them as useful information to be weaponized in service to their own, self-serving objectives.
Empaths tend to hurt themselves. Narcissists tend to hurt other people.
An awakened empath is someone who has incorporated the narcissist’s ability to mentally register what they encounter and be strategic rather than impulsive in how they respond to it. An awakened narcissist (yes, there are a few around) is someone who disciplines themselves to abide by the healthy boundaries of someone with high standards (like an awakened empath), regardless of whether they understand or agree with those boundaries themselves.
So perhaps that’s the deeper, spiritual reason that narcissists andempaths are drawn to each other. The problem is that most narcissists don’t want to be awoken. And as a matter of survival, empaths can’t afford to wait around in the hopes that they’ll be there when the narcissist changes their mind. But perhaps if the empath and the narcissist study each other from afar, they can learn something useful from each other.