The Dance Between the Narcissist and the Empath

Cherilyn Christen Clough
4 min readNov 25, 2019

It’s Never What it Seems

Photo by Dexter Fernandes on Unsplash

Narcissistic people search for empaths like heat-seeking missiles. Then, once they find them, they try to milk them for all their worth. It’s called narcissistic feed. The narcissistic feed can be compliments, favors, money, votes — you name it — it’s the narc’s currency and varies from person to person.

It’s tough for an empath to see through a narcissist because they are kind, generous, and trusting — all traits exploited by the narcissist. Empaths feel so deeply for other people that the narcissist slides through their blind spot. An empath might generously serve and genuinely forgive a narcissist for decades because it’s in their nature to love unconditionally.

One reason an empath doesn’t recognize the narcissist is that they would never do the things a narcissist does. It usually takes a huge wake-up call for an empath to discover they’ve been used. This is because they like to analyze people and feel their feelings — this is the empath lifestyle. Thus an empath will keep trying to understand the narcissist’s point of view even while the narc is planning their demise.

When an empath discovers they’ve been played, they find it devastating at first, they once again might fall back into their old patterns of feeling the feelings of other people and imagining why the narcissist did what they did.

This is a point of backsliding for the empath because the narcissist has been exposed and yet the empath still imagines they understand why the narcissist did the cruel and unimaginable things they did.

This problem becomes even more complicated when the empath actually imagines and assigns feelings to the narcissist — feelings that the narcissist has never experience themself. The empath just cannot believe the narcissist is as mean as they appear. They must surely be hurting and broken inside to do what they’ve done. The empath believes their love can cure the narcissist. The empath keeps wondering how they can crack the code and bring relief and light into the dark mind of the narcissist. It’s a great dream, but it never comes true.

It’s not that the narcissist can’t change — they change lies and tactics all the time — but the narcissist doesn’t want to change into the person the empath envisions. The narcissist is satisfied with who they are — they enjoy using and abusing others. They like messing with people’s minds. They love a good gaslighting session and when they leave someone baffled and confused, they might even laugh.

The empath keeps filling up on empathy for the narcissist while the narcissist is working to destroy them. This is a match made in hell, but like a sparrow to a glass window, the empath flies closer and closer until she crashes and falls. For just a moment, it looks like the narcissist has won. The narc sure thinks so. Narcissistic people don’t think in terms of relationships as much as conquering people and sucking their souls dry.

With a broken wing, lying on the concrete, the empath swallows the insults and cruelty of the narcissist. It might seem bleak, but sometimes, it takes a crash for the empath to catch on to the agenda of the narc. The shock and pain awaken her attention to her own thoughts, feelings, and body. This is where her healing begins.

Despite her pain, the empath is the lucky one. She might be bleeding, but she still has a soul. She can heal and grow stronger. She will use her gift of empathy to heal and inspire others, while the narcissist will continue serving themself. The narcissist can’t take her wings away from her — she still has what it takes to fly.

The empath and narcissist — for all of their traumatic dancing — have not changed each other much at all. The narcissist will move on and hunt for a new victim. The empath will continue feeling the feelings of others — but hopefully, she will be wiser and not so naive. The ultimate test will be if she can learn to dance alone and enjoy it. Then she will have even more to bring to the next relationship because of the strength she finds alone. Perhaps next time she will find someone who reciprocates her love and attention.

The narcissist’s behavior will keep narrowing down their options until they become the husk of a human being. RIP poor narcissist! If only you were willing to learn, you might have won things like love and joy and peace for your own heart instead of stealing them from others.

The empath will go on to flourish in loving relationships as she exchanges feelings of compassion and kindness with others. In the end, the empath will create a new family with her gifts of experience, love, joy, and peace. She will align with people she can trust. Despite all the narcissist has put her through, the empath will enjoy a better life.

Cherilyn Christen Clough broke the rules when she started writing about her family’s secrets. Some claim she sold her soul to the devil, but she prefers to think of it as gaining freedom. You can read about her strange childhood in Chasing Eden A Memoir.



Cherilyn Christen Clough

Exposing narcissism, smashing the patriarchy, and refuting religious abuse--one story at a time