Have you ever wondered why empaths and narcissists seem to be drawn to each other? If so, you’re not alone. It is a very common question people learning about narcissism and narcissistic abuse have.

Empaths and narcissists attract because empaths’ innate desire to heal others satisfies the emotional needs of narcissists and the manipulative nature of narcissists triggers empaths’ willingness to help others. This dynamic allows them to meet each other’s needs despite the unhealthy relationship.

In this article, I will dive into this dynamic a bit further by explaining the core reasons empaths and narcissists attract to help you better understand this topic.

1.) Empaths Have a Desire to Understand and Heal Emotional Pain

The first reason that empaths and narcissists attract is empaths’ innate desire to understand and heal emotional pain. You see, empaths are really good at picking up on and understanding the emotional states of others.

This ability stems from their profound sense of empathy and compassion and drives them to want to heal and/or alleviate the emotional burdens of others.

Narcissists are attracted to this because they struggle with powerful painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions. 

That’s right. You read that correctly. 

Despite their grandiose self-perception and public persona, narcissists struggle with feelings of being unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

A narcissist with painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

But unfortunately, they can’t manage these painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions independently because they lack the emotional skills needed to do so.

Instead, they rely on narcissistic supply to suppress their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions to construct and maintain a positive self-perception. 

Suggested Reading: What Is Narcissistic Supply and Why Do They Need It So Badly?

So to wrap this section up, empaths and narcissists attract because narcissists rely on the narcissistic supply that comes from empaths’ innate desire to understand and heal the narcissist’s emotional pain.

Narcissists use this supply to suppress all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions so they can construct and maintain a positive self-perception. 

2.) Narcissist Use Mirroring to Pretend to Be Vulnerable to Trigger Empaths’ Healing Nature

A manipulation tactic that narcissists often use to attract empaths is self-victimization. This term refers to the fabrication or exaggeration of victimhood.

Suggested Reading: 10 Tactics Narcissists Use to Make You Feel Guilty

Generally speaking, narcissists typically do this by sharing a story of their past wounds, traumas, or misfortunes in a manipulative but also emotionally impactful way.

Here’s an example of this happening: 

“You know, it’s tough for me to talk about this…, but when I was young, my parents were never really there for me. They were always too busy with work or their own lives to notice me. I felt like a ghost in my own home. 

I had to teach myself everything – how to ride a bike, deal with bullies, and navigate heartbreaks. It was lonely and tough. That’s why I’m always trying to be strong. It feels like if I’m not, I’ll end up overlooked and forgotten, just like when I was a kid.”

To the empath, this interaction resonates deeply with their nurturing nature and triggers their innate desire to understand and heal the narcissist’s emotional pain.

Over time, these types of interactions can manipulate the empath into becoming deeply invested in the well-being of the narcissist.

So the second reason that empaths and narcissists attract is because of narcissists’ ability to trigger empaths’ healing nature by using self-victimization to display a false sense of vulnerability.

3.) Empaths Have a Desire for Deep Connection That Makes Them Vulnerable to Love Bombing

If you didn’t know already, love bombing is a manipulation tactic that narcissists use during the idealization phase, which is the first phase in the narcissistic abuse cycle.

Suggested Reading: What Is the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle?

The reason that narcissists use love bombing is because it allows them to create a falsified identity that portrays them as “perfect” in the eyes of their target.

To do this, narcissists shower their target with affection, attention, compliments, and gifts while mirroring the target’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. 

This makes the target feel heard, understood, and supported, and subsequently, creates an illusion of deep emotional connection.

Two people having an emotional connection.

This is the core of the third reason that empaths and narcissists attract.

You see, because empaths tend to search for a deep emotional connection with others enthusiastically, they become easy targets for narcissists and their manipulation tactics.

With all of that being said, I want to ensure that you know that seeking a deep emotional connection isn’t bad or something you should avoid.

I’ve mentioned it in this article because the abundance of empathic qualities that empaths’ have often cause them to blindly seek deep emotional connection.

Again, there is nothing wrong with seeking deep emotional connection in healthy relationships. But when an empath crosses paths with a narcissist, this becomes a huge problem because it allows the narcissist to weasel their way into the life of the empath.

4.) They Are Good at Faking Empathy to Attract and Connect with Empaths

Another manipulation tactic that narcissists often use is mirroring. 

This term means creating a false connection with another person by mimicking their personality, interests, or beliefs. 

Suggested Reading: Why Do Narcissists Use Mirroring?

This tactic is arguably the biggest reason narcissists attract the people they abuse, not just empaths. This is because when a narcissist mirrors someone, they make them feel heard, understood, and supported. 

This feeling helps the narcissist create an illusion of a deep emotional connection between the narcissist and the person they are abusing.

Now, even though narcissists lack empathy, they can use mirroring to mirror the empath’s empathetic reactions.

This validates the empath’s feelings and makes the narcissist seem caring, understanding, and emotionally attuned.

To the empath, this perceived empathy signals that deep emotional connection I just mentioned and this is the fourth reason that narcissists and empaths attract.

5.) Empaths Struggle with Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries 

The fifth reason that empaths and narcissists attract is that empaths often struggle to set and maintain healthy boundaries with others.

This is because their profound sense of empathy and compassion often blurs the lines between their needs and those of others. 

So it is common for empaths to go to great lengths to prioritize the well-being of the people around them over their own.

This makes it difficult to set and maintain healthy boundaries, especially when dealing with someone as manipulative and controlling as a narcissist.

A therapist talking about boundaries with an empath.

Suggested Reading: How to Set Boundaries With a Narcissist

This difficulty that empaths have with boundaries attracts narcissists because narcissists see it as an opportunity to exploit the empath to get narcissistic supply.

This often plays out in the form of the narcissist overstepping the empath’s boundaries and using manipulation tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and stonewalling to trick the empath into prioritizing the narcissist’s well-being over their own.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

Empaths and narcissists attract because the innate desire to heal others that empaths have satisfies the emotional needs of narcissists.

At the same time, the manipulative nature of narcissists triggers empaths’ willingness to help others.

This dynamic allows them to meet each other’s needs despite the unhealthy relationship.

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.
Share this post to help others trust their experiences.

References:

About This Article

We used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create parts of this article to enhance its accuracy and readability. It underwent a strict human editorial process before being published. See additional information.

4 Comments

  1. Once again, thank you, Elijah. I consider it essential for empaths to become aware of their part in this dance of insanity. Without owning it an empath can get stuck in a state of “victim” mentality. Thank you for teaching me how to do this.❤️

    1. Hi Vicki,

      Thank you for leaving a comment!

      I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to help you.

      If there is anything else we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

      All the best,

      Elijah

  2. Thank you Elijah
    The lightbulb finally came on!!! Now I understand why I keep choosing a narcissist! Unknowingly …not now!
    How will I know the difference between a person who is truly all the things ha a narcissist pretends to be? How is the question now instead of why!
    Clavel

    1. Hi Clavel,

      It is always lovely to hear from you!

      I’m happy this article sparked a light bulb moment for you.

      To answer your question: knowledge.

      In my opinion, once you:

      1.) Identify the aspects of your identity that make you vulnerable to narcissistic abuse (e.g., having overly empathic tendencies)

      2.) Learn how to set boundaries with others.

      3.) Know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

      You will have the skills you need to tell the difference between authenticity and the lies narcissists tell.

      At least, this was the case for me. But yeah, it all comes down to knowledge, in my opinion.

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