Updated: Aug 27
Today, we're going to tackle the topic I see day in and day out in clinic: the fascinating reason why empaths seem to attract narcissists. This can be eye opening and evoke a lot of different emotions - and I'm here to walk you through it. If anything hits home or stirs up emotions, feel free to reach out to me.
Empaths and Their Background: We're talking about empaths—those super empathic individuals who feel emotions on another and much higher level. If this is you - you're likely to have grown up in environments where criticism, judgment, threats, and chaos were the norm. It could be direct or indirect, like having abusive parents or hearing constant shouting matches. This kind of upbringing can mess with your perception of safety and sets the stage for what's to come.
The Programming of Empaths: In your innocent little minds, you may start believing that everyone's safety hinges on your ability to keep everyone happy. So you put on your superhero cape and work tirelessly to ensure everyone's okay. It becomes ingrained in you that arguments are a big no-no, and you should always be on your "best behaviour" to maintain peace. You might think, "If everyone else is happy, then I'll be safe too." This subconscious programming sticks with you as you grow older and enter relationships. P.S. Sadly, this opens the door for a trauma bonding relationship as an adult as you engage in what is in fact self-sabotaging behaviour. What do I mean? Well, if you're working very hard to maintain the peace around you - that might be all well and good for other people - however YOU don't necessarily experience peace as your needs go unmet and you prioritise others. This is self-sabotaging behaviour as you never live the life you really want or that is aligned to you. Also, you allow narcissists to take advantage of your nature of "making others happy" as they are seeking a partner who will bow down to them.
The Perfect Match: Empaths and Narcissists: Now, here's where things get interesting. Along comes a narcissist—someone with a fragile sense of self but who loves to present themselves as the centre of the universe. They demand to be a priority, and guess what? That lines up perfectly with what empaths are looking for! The empath's subconscious is seeking someone who wants to be prioritised, and the narcissist is showing all the signs.
The Trauma Bonding and Loss of Self: As the relationship progresses, you as an empath find yourself caught up in a rollercoaster of emotions which results in trauma bonding. At the beginning, the narcissist showers them with affection and love—the infamous love bombing phase. It feels amazing for you as an empath because, deep down, you crave that sense of being prioritized. But here's the twist: as time goes on, the narcissist starts dishing out criticism, doubt, and manipulation. It messes with your head, big time. Instead of standing up and saying, "Hey, this isn't right," you start questioning yourself, blaming yourself, and doubting your worth. It's like they're stuck in a loop they can't escape. Relationship problems emerge despite how much you try to improve your relationship. This may even occur after surviving infidelity from your partner, forgiving them repeatedly, or further abuse and threat of abandonment. You are now caught up in trauma bonding.
Breaking the Cycle: So, how do we break free from this toxic relationship? Well, my friends, it starts with self-reflection. Therapy and professional support can work wonders here, so don't shy away from seeking help. Picture this: you've got a mirror, and it's facing you. Look into it and ask yourself some deep questions. What pain do I want to break free from? What kind of experiences do I want for myself? By understanding your needs and desires, you gain clarity and make better choices moving forward.
This is a complex dance driven by subconscious patterns, but understanding the dynamic is the first step towards liberation. Remember, seeking professional guidance is essential for growth and healing.
If you found this useful, please do me 2 favours. Please have a look at my free e-book here which can help you improve your relationship and heal trauma bonding. Second, please share with other people who you feel would benefit from this - because the more people supported, the better our community can survive and heal.
As always, if you ever want to connect and gain support - I'm here.
All my love, Dr Sarah