As I gazed at the famous painting of Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse, my eyes were stuck on Echo, wondering how long will she wait for him to notice that she exists. Her desperation is more painful than his self-absorption. You feel like telling her – “move on honey, move on”. Probably that is the most logical reaction one could have. But sometimes it just seems like rationality and logic doesn’t necessarily work. Else we wouldn’t find so many Narcissus – Echo combination. We all know of such relationships or even would have experienced it ourselves at some point in our lives.
To be honest, it’s quite natural to be attracted to a narcissist. Why wouldn’t you – in their first impression they are quite charming, open, entertaining and attractive. Research has showed that strangers’ initial impressions of narcissists for the first seven meetings are mostly positive.
Research has shown that strangers’ initial impressions of narcissists for the first seven meetings are mostly positive.
Initial attraction to a narcissist is quite natural but what about love? How does one fall in love with someone who can’t see anything beyond themselves. Why does someone make these self-destructive choices? And the most ironical part is that – most of the time the one in love with a narcissist tends to be an Empath. It surely is an example of opposites attract but it also is a toxic attraction that is destined for disaster.
As per psychiatrist Judith Orloff, empaths absorb feelings from other people easily, like an “emotional sponge”, which is an attractive trait to a narcissist as they see someone who will fulfill their needs in a selfless way.
But what attracts the Empaths and keeps them stuck in a relationship with a Narcissist?
Empaths find happiness in healing. When they see someone whom they perceive to be in a lot of pain, they ache to nurture and balm those wounds. And most of the time they consider a Narcissist as wounded souls who need to be healed with their love and compassion.
Most of the time they consider a Narcissist as wounded souls who need to healed with their love and compassion.
An empath falling in love with a narcissist, could also result due to a subconscious need of an empath to feel loved and wanted because in their childhood they had been with a primary caregiver who was mostly emotionally unavailable. This results in the adult empath seeking validation and seeking a sense of self worth even from toxic people.
Sometimes it is difficult for them to comprehend the fact that they are in a narcissistic relationship. As per Judith Orloff in her book “Emotional Freedom”, these are a few questions that one could ask to self check if one is dealing with a narcissist.
- Does the person act as if life revolves around him/her?
- Do I have to compliment him/her to get his attention or approval?
- Does the person constantly steer the conversation back to him or herself?
- Does he or she downplay my feelings or interests?
- If I disagree, does he or she become cold or withholding?
If the answer is “yes” to one or two questions, it’s likely one is dealing with a narcissist.
Okay, falling in love could be explained but even sometimes when they realize the fact that they are in a toxic relationship – why do they still stay put?
They’ll stay in the relationship much longer than they should do, in the hope that their narcissist partner will change. Sometimes when they do not see any reciprocation from the narcissist they blame themselves for not trying hard enough. They hope their unconditional love will eventually create authentic connection. But sadly, with a narcissist, the wait is in vain as the narcissist sees nothing beyond himself/herself.
Rationalizing unacceptable behavior of narcissist partner is simply evidence of an inability to set and enforce healthy boundaries. Healthy boundary is about letting people know what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable way of treating you.
Keep in mind – we teach people how to treat us.
Let me reiterate – being an Empath is a rare gift and you should never consider it as your weakness. But understanding the flip side of our very nature , it is important that we mature as an empath – which means learning how to create healthy boundaries, resilience, self acceptance, self love and to accept that hard truth that – your love ain’t enough to fix a narcissist.