What is an Empath? | The Dynamics of an Empath/Narcissistic Relationship

What exactly is an empath? Mirrian Webster defines an empath as one who experiences the emotions of others, and a person who has empathy for others.

Some descriptions of empaths mention paranormal abilities, but an empath is not a mind reader. An empath cannot pick up on what someone else is thinking.

Empaths Feel the Emotions of Others

In my own position (I am an empath), an empath feels the emotions and feelings of others, and they can feel this emotion as if it were part of their own experience. Someone’s pain becomes an empaths pain. Someone’s joy because an empaths joy.

The danger in picking up on the emotions of others is that these feelings can easily be absorbed. Unless an empath has matured, i.e., they have developed an awareness of their ability to sense the emotions of others, and has developed mindfulness to block what they are picking up on, they can end up feeling tossed around due to whatever is going on in other’s feelings and emotions.

This awareness takes work, and what it equates to is feeling the emotions of others only momentarily, without letting it sink in under the skin. In other words, the empath develops the ability and mindset to say, “They own that (feeling/emotion). It is theirs, not mine.”

Empaths Can Appear Sensitive

Empaths can appear to be sensitive people if they allow the feelings of others to change their trajectory in day-to-day life.

The question that I like to present to empaths is, do you use this ability maturely, or do you allow it to wreck your life?

Empaths Have Strong Intuition

Empaths have intense intuition. They have gut feelings about people that others may not have.

An empath can sense danger or a dark side in a person. An empath can sense when someone is not being genuine. Empaths can see right through a fake persona. This can feel frustrating, alarming, and sometimes, depending upon the situation, hurtful to an empath.

Empaths are Often Introverted

Empaths and introversion are personality characteristics that frequently go hand in hand.

This means that most empaths love people. They are huggers. They adore seeing people that they have not seen for a while. Empaths cherish hearing that life is not only okay for others, but excellent, but after a period of small talk, it becomes tiring. The empath feels fatigued and is ready to head home, shut the door, and recharge.

This is quite the opposite of an extrovert—a person that feels drained or feels as if they hit bottom when they are running on a deficit of social interactions.

Empaths are Frequently Targets of Narcissists

Narcissists are drawn to empaths because they seek a person with a big sensitive heart which enables them to initially love bomb/manipulate/groom the target.

The big question is, how in the world can an empath NOT pick up on the narcissist’s dark side? The answer is remarkably simple. A vulnerable empath may feel starved for a trusting connective relationship, which leads them to absorb the narcissist’s early attempts in the relationship. In other words, they are blind-sided due to their vulnerabilities and craving for love.

An empath may not pick up on the intensity of the initial relationship with the narcissist until they are drawn completely in, and then they experience overwhelm. The overwhelm fogs the empaths perception at that point.

Once the empath picks up on the stark cold reality from the emotions and feelings of the narcissist, it can be particularly heartbreaking, shocking, and confusing.

What an Empath Can Do To Heal from, or Navigate, a Narcissistic Relationship

Therapy, Counseling, or Coaching. I always recommend therapy and/or professional counseling when a client needs deep healing. Coaching is also an option, to help the client get back on their feet…but coaching does not involve therapy. We are not therapists or counselors.

Mindset and Mindfulness. The development of mindset and mindfulness is key to healing from a manipulative or emotionally abusive relationship. If the empath chooses to remain in the relationship, both of these areas will help the empath to set boundaries that will help to protect their own emotional and mental well-being.

What do mindset and mindfulness look like in dealing with a relationship with a narcissist?

  • Recognize when the narcissist’s emotions and feelings are invading your space and your thoughts. Recognize when your heart feels as if it is breaking, or when you feel completely drained, that your emotions may be multiplied not because of your own thoughts, but because of the intensity of the narcissist’s feelings and emotions.
  • Remember that YOU must spiritually and mentally take care of yourself. Narcissists believe that their interests hold the most importance in life.
  • Recognize and believe that you are worthy of being loved and respected in a relationship, and learn to call any/all abuse by its name a.b.u.s.e.!
  • Develop an awareness. Look deep into yourself. What feelings of your own are you sweeping under the rug? What are you not allowing in your life that you, as a human, deserve and need?
  • Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to fulfill your need for a loving relationship with a narcissist who may be more interested in controlling you, or in fulfilling his own needs?
  • Are you looking for approval? Are you trying to do ‘everything right’ in the relationship to gain respect and love from your emotionally unavailable partner?

Ask Yourself These Important Questions

Are you honoring your needs today? Are you taking care of yourself? (You may have a big heart, but your needs matter!)

Are you allowing yourself time to think? (Time to be alone, to think and recharge your ‘batteries.’)

If you are in a relationship with a person who displays narcissistic behavior, are you setting limits and boundaries that help protect you from the weight and onslaught of any manipulative attempts?

Have you developed a boundary system that projects, “These are their feelings and emotions, not mine.”?

Action Step: Prayer Time for Women:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Heavenly Father,

You have given me this incredible ability to love and to sense the emotions of others. I am so grateful for this ability, but today I ask you to help me guard my heart. I ask you to grow my wisdom and strength so that I do not turn to the left, nor the right, and that I only keep my heart and intentions on you, and not on the thoughts and opinions of people. 

Help me to focus on spiritual things that are of you, and not of this world. 

In Jesus' Name,


Pray for strength. Pray for wisdom. Pray for discernment. Remember that prayer is comprised of 4 parts  — seek, knock, believe, and you will find. 

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