Empaths are exceptionally sensitive people who want to help others. They can sense the emotional energy of people around them, including narcissists. In fact, because empaths can see the emotional turmoil and are eager to help, they are frequently attracted to narcissists. Narcissists are also attracted to them because empaths become laser-focused on other people’s needs. This is great for the narcissist, although they fear the empath’s ability to see through to their true self. Still, narcissists and empaths commonly get together, so what happens when an empath leaves the narcissist?
There are several things that occur when an empath leaves a narcissist. The empath feels strong emotions because they took on the responsibility of helping the narcissist. The narcissist will do almost anything to get the empath back. There are several possible long-term consequences as well.
If you’re an empath who’s in a relationship with a narcissist, you need to be aware of just what might happen when you decide to end that relationship. Check out this video to see how such a relationship works, but when it ends, you’ll need to be prepared.
It’s important for your emotional and mental health to realize just how you might feel and react to the loss of such a needy partner. It’s also helpful to understand how the narcissist might react so you can be prepared for that too.
What Happens to an Empath When They Leave a Narcissist?
When an empath leaves a narcissist, there are several powerful emotions they can experience. Being aware of these emotions and how they can affect your thinking is vital to preventing further narcissistic abuse.
Dramatic Change Can be Unsettling
The relationship between an empath and a narcissist is one of intense emotional instability. The empath senses the narcissist’s traumatized inner child and the fear, shame, and self-loathing that dominate the narcissist’s inner world.
The empath initially wants to help the narcissist. They can see the pain and suffering the personality disorder causes, and they want to help. If the empath is not careful, however, the narcissist will lure them into a state of codependency.
I became very empathic as a result of my mother’s narcissistic manipulation. She was such an unpredictable individual that I had to be very sensitive to her mood swings as a way to protect myself. Ignoring my own needs helped keep the peace, and I used it as a defense mechanism.
It’s not a sustainable coping strategy, however, and it’s vital for an empath to realize they must enforce certain energetic boundaries to keep from being sucked dry by the vampiric narcissist. Even if an empath can maintain their own sense of self, their relationship with a narcissist will still be very intense.
When it ends, they will often feel a sense of emptiness. They have been focusing on the tumultuous, intense energetic fluctuations in the narcissist’s mood and temperament for so long that it can feel as though they have nothing left.
That can be a very unsettling sensation. When I left my mother to regain my sense of self, I felt very odd for quite a long time. It was as if I had nothing inside now that I didn’t have my mother’s constant hunger for attention to keep me busy.
It’s important to remember that even when you lose something that isn’t healthy for you, there is still a loss that takes place. You still have to work through that change.
Empaths Often Rethink Their Decision Frequently
Because of the dramatic difference the empath feels when they leave the intensity of the relationship with a narcissist, they can feel as though they have lost their sense of purpose. It’s normal for them to wonder if they made a mistake when they left.
It’s also easy for some empaths to wonder if they were overreacting when they left. They may start to think that the narcissist couldn’t have really meant the terrible things they said when they were in their narcissistic rage.
They can imagine that the narcissist wasn’t really intending to devalue them when they were insulting them time and again. They can come to believe the gaslighting the narcissist wants them to believe. It’s not uncommon for people to downplay the negative aspects of a relationship and focus instead on what was positive about it.
The narcissist is to the empath ‘the devil they know,’ and they might even find themselves longing to have that toxic person back in their life. They reason that at least they had come to know what to expect.
It’s also true that the unknown can seem frightening. When you leave the narcissist, you’re stepping back into an entirely different social network. You have to reinvent yourself as a single person, an independent entity without the narcissist in your life.
That can seem very frightening and causes many empaths to rethink their decision to leave frequently. With almost every obstacle that arises in your life, you might start thinking you would be better off if you had just stayed. That’s usually not the case, but it’s not uncommon to think that.
Empaths are also sensitive to the pain of their narcissistic partner, and as a result, they think about returning so that the narcissist won’t be hurting anymore.
Empaths Fear Being Judged by Friends and Family
Another reason that it can be emotionally difficult for empaths to leave a narcissist is that they fear the judgment that may come from some friends and family members. They are extremely sensitive individuals, and they easily pick up on that kind of emotion.
Thinking about this judgment can make an empath reticent to leave their narcissistic partner. They know they will sense the emotional changes in certain people and that fear of being judged can prevent them from taking the action they need to in order to be in a happier, healthier place.
The problem for the empath is that people can’t hide their emotional energy from them. If you are feeling a particular way about an empath, they can usually sense that. It makes it difficult for them to do anything that they think will provoke your negative energy.
If an empath has children with a narcissist, they will also feel the weight of how the breakup may affect them. They might hear their mother chiding them for not thinking about the children first. The problem is that a relationship with a narcissist is extremely chaotic, and that is also not good for the child.
As the child of a narcissist, I can assure you that leaving such a toxic person behind is better for your child’s health and future than staying. Your children, like yourself, will likely feel a level of confusion and fear, but once they are not in constant contact with the narcissist, they usually start to blossom.
The truth is that when you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, and you’re thinking about leaving, the last thing you need to worry about is how other people might judge you. The problem for the empath, however, is that they can’t escape sensing those emotions.
Empaths Can Feel Uncertain about Their Sense of Self
Another common reaction to breaking up with a narcissist is that an empath can doubt their own sense of self. Narcissists will gaslight, lie, and confuse their victims to make them more dependent on the narcissist.
They don’t want you to be your own person, and they don’t think of you like that. They really think of their victims as an extension of their own identity. Narcissists treat their victims like that, and it can eventually make you start to doubt your sense of self.
The gaslighting from a narcissist can make you question your own reality and even your own sanity. I know I did. My mother gaslighted me at every turn, and I wasn’t certain I could live on my own. I had bought into the idea that I needed my mother. I needed her opinion on everything.
I didn’t trust myself to be strong enough to live without her constantly telling me what to do and how flawed I was. That’s exactly what the narcissist wants you to do. They don’t want you to feel confident in your own ideas and thoughts. They don’t want you to feel like you can live without them.
They are trying to instill a sense of learned helplessness and frailty that they can then take advantage of through manipulation. Because the empath senses emotions on such a deep and sometimes physical level, they buy into that idea. They can come to see themselves as helpless and needy.
Most narcissists pick up on that quality in the empath early in their relationship, and they use it to their advantage every chance they get. They can make empaths question their own sense of self because they can so strongly sense the weakened sense of self in the narcissist.
Empaths May Fear They are Narcissists
It’s common for narcissists to use projection as a manipulation tactic. They will accuse their romantic partners and other people in their life of being a narcissist themselves. They can be pretty convincing too.
This is particularly true for someone who is an empath. They are capable of sensing the narcissist’s true emotional turmoil, and they can sometimes take that on themselves. Super empaths are people who will not only sense the emotions of others but actually feel those emotions in their own bodies.
When they sense the underlying sense of shame and self-loathing that the narcissist is secretly harboring, it can be easy for them to take those emotions on and feel as if that is their experience. In a sense, it is.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important for empaths to guard against taking on too many emotions. They have to shut off their capacity for doing that on an energetic level to protect themselves.
If they can’t do that, they could easily buy into the narcissist’s assertion that the empath is a narcissist rather than the other way around. This is part of what makes a narcissist so dangerous to an empath.
Empaths can shut down narcissism because of the way they are able to tune into the narcissist’s true emotions, but if they have not fully realized their abilities, the narcissist can turn the tables on them. Narcissists are very adept at convincing other people of their point of view.
This is only made easier if the person they are victimizing is sensitive to emotional energy on the level of the empath. It’s why it’s so important for empaths to carefully monitor their energy, practice good self-care techniques, and enforce strong energetic boundaries.
Empaths Struggle with Guilt and Feelings of Responsibility
Empaths are caring people who strive to help others with their emotional struggles. They have the insight to see through to the truth about your feelings and how they are affecting your mental and physical health.
They do this with their narcissistic partners, and they strive to help them overcome what they see is really going on. It’s a tall order with a narcissist, however, because the nature of narcissistic personality disorder is such that the narcissist does not have the capacity for introspection.
That’s why an empath is unlikely to be able to really change a narcissist. They might be able to stop their narcissistic manipulation tactics when interacting with the empath, but they are less likely to be able to fundamentally change the narcissist.
That isn’t really their responsibility, but they often take it on as such. When the empath can’t help the narcissist to overcome their internal criticism and feelings of worthlessness, they often feel guilty about that. They feel it was their responsibility to help them heal, and they failed.
The truth is that only the narcissist can change themselves. It isn’t something the empath can do, nor is it their responsibility. Empaths can shut down narcissistic tactics because they have the unique ability to see through the false self-image the narcissist has erected.
That can even sometimes make the narcissist leave the empath because they fear the empath will expose their true self. While this ability could conceivably help the narcissist heal, the narcissist usually rejects that possibility.
Even if they do choose to try to heal, it is still the narcissist’s choice. But it can be difficult for the empath to see that when they are experiencing strong feelings after leaving the narcissist.
Empaths Will Fear They Have Lost Themselves
Empaths can get so confused and frustrated with narcissistic tactics that they can lose track of their own sense of self. They can feel as if they don’t recognize themselves anymore. They can also have difficulty separating their own emotions from those of the narcissist.
The narcissist wants this to happen because it makes them more prone to manipulation than they might otherwise be. The empath is vulnerable when they are in this state of confusion, and it’s easy for the narcissist to try to control them.
This is why empaths need to have strong boundaries regarding when they allow themselves to be open to the energy of others. They have to protect themselves from this kind of confusion.
If they don’t, this is when they can truly feel as though they don’t know who they are, and in a sense, they don’t. If they can’t separate their emotions from the emotional energy they are taking in from other people, then they really have lost themselves.
Once again, narcissists are experts at detecting and exploiting this kind of vulnerability. It plays right into their narrative. It makes them feel powerful and superior. They will not hesitate to use this sense of vulnerability to their own advantage.
What Happens to Narcissists When an Empath Leaves?
Narcissists are equally attracted to empaths, even though, as this video explains, the empath can destroy the narcissist.
When the empath leaves, the narcissist often goes to extremes to try to get them back. They want someone who will focus on their needs, and the empath usually fits the bill. When they’ve gone, it can leave the narcissist feeling utterly lost.
Narcissists Feel Desperate and Enraged
Narcissists require external validation, and an empath is a rich source of this supply. When the empath leaves, the narcissist feels abandoned and can spiral out of control. They no longer have anyone who is focused on their needs the way an empath does.
For this reason, many narcissists will try to do almost anything to get the empath back. They may even stalk them either physically or online. They might also start a smear campaign against the empath to make them look foolish, unstable, or dangerous themselves.
As trauma expert Dr. Melissa Kalt notes, “…the pain of rejection causes the narcissist severe narcissistic injury, which results in narcissistic rage. The narcissist may then
- Threaten you
- Become verbally/physically/emotionally abusive
- Call the police on you
- Destroy your other relationships and the people and things important to you
- Smear you”
They feel desperate, and it is possible the empath might have to get a restraining order to keep the narcissist away.
It’s important to remember that a narcissist experiences other people as extensions of their own identity. That makes losing them even more painful because it feels like they are losing a part of themselves.
With an empathic partner, that feeling of loss is even more intense because empaths are so sensitive to the needs of other people. It can create a very difficult situation for the empath, who is generally a very kind individual.
Narcissists May Experience Depression
Narcissists fear abandonment because they fear losing their narcissistic supply. They need other people to provide them with that constant adoration to prop up their self-esteem. Because empaths are so sensitive and kind, they are a rich source of adoration and provide the narcissist with a significant boost for their self-esteem.
Losing an empath can be extremely difficult for a narcissist since such a rich supply can be difficult to replace. The narcissist can easily fall into depression when this happens. It can make them do unpredictable things.
They may even threaten suicide, which can be an effective form of manipulation for an empath. It’s important for the empath to realize that they are not responsible for this, and they shouldn’t allow this to make them change their mind.
I experienced a form of this with my mother. While I didn’t go no contact with her, I was no longer at her beck and call. That caused her to feel very depressed for a while. I was concerned, but I was more determined to maintain my boundaries. Instead of bending to her will, I recommended a therapist who could help her work through this change in our relationship.
Narcissists Will Hoover the Empath
When a narcissist is desperate to get someone back, they are able to turn that charm back on that made the person fall in love with them in the first place. Narcissists usually learn to be very charming in the beginning stages of a relationship.
They idealize the person in whom they’re interested and shower them with attention and support. It’s what makes many people feel like they’ve met their soulmate when they meet a narcissist.
Eventually, the partner of a narcissist (whether an empath or not) will disappoint the narcissist because narcissists have unrealistically high expectations for the people in their life. It’s impossible not to disappoint them.
When that happens, the narcissist begins to devalue them, and often the relationship ends soon after that. When a narcissist wants to get someone back, however, they can turn that charm back on and begin to idealize them again. This is called hoovering, after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, because the narcissist is trying to suck their victim back in.
The narcissist can be very convincing, too, particularly for an empath who would like to believe they have truly changed. It’s unlikely, however, that the narcissist has changed at all. It takes years of intense therapy for a narcissist to change, and it’s probably better for the empath to ignore the hoovering and stay away from the narcissist.
Leaving a narcissist can create a number of surprising emotions for an empath. The close connection the two of you have had can be difficult to lose, even if they are abusive. What’s more, the reaction of the narcissist can trigger old emotional wounds and make you even more susceptible to the narcissist’s manipulation. To avoid that, you’ll want to do a number of things to heal from the abuse you’ve experienced.
One of the best things you can do is defuse those old emotional wounds so that they won’t trigger an emotional reaction. That will help you prevent any more abusive treatment and maintain your boundaries. My 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers can help recognize and identify those emotional triggers. It’s free, and I’ll deliver it directly to your inbox if you just click on the link here. It can change your life and help you maintain firm boundaries against narcissistic abuse.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel