What Is An Empathic Narcissist And Why Are They So Dangerous?

If you’ve ever dated a narcissist, you know all too well how damaging the experience can be. However, at least in that case, you know what you’re dealing with. When you meet and become involved with an empathic narcissist, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Here are some traits common in people like this and what to do if you find yourself in a bad situation.

What is an empathic narcissist?

An empathic narcissist is a term used to describe an individual who possesses traits of both narcissism and empathy. This can be a confusing and contradictory combination since narcissists are often characterized as lacking empathy. However, they actually do exist.

Empathic narcissists have the self-centered, grandiose mindset of a typical narcissist, but they also possess an unusual level of empathy and concern for others. They can be extremely charming and charismatic, and they use their empathy to manipulate and control those around them. Unlike traditional narcissists who often lack awareness of their behavior, empathic narcissists may be more self-aware and even admit to their narcissistic tendencies. They may use their empathy as a tool to maintain their image and control over others.

Overall, an empathic narcissist is a complex and potentially dangerous individual who uses both their narcissistic traits and their empathy to get what they want. This makes them one of the worst possible people you could ever come across or get involved with.

What are the common traits of an empathic narcissist?

  1. Grandiosity They tend to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and superiority. They don’t even pretend to be humble or understated. Instead, they make everything (including themself) larger than life.
  2. Charisma They possess an ability to charm and influence others, often through a veneer of warmth and kindness. It’s hard not to be drawn to an empathic narcissist for this very reason.
  3. Empathy They have the ability to understand and relate to the emotions of others. However, they often use this in a calculated way to manipulate or control.
  4. Self-centeredness Empathic narcissists have a preoccupation with themselves and their own needs and desires. While they may appear to care about you at first glance, when the chips are down, it’s clear they don’t.
  5. Self-absorption They tend to focus on their own experiences, feelings, and thoughts. They’re not only the center of their own world, they expect to be the center of everyone else’s too.
  6. Entitlement They have the belief that they’re entitled to special treatment or privileges. They don’t believe they should have to earn them, either. These privileges should just be given.
  7. Exploitation An empathic narcissist has the tendency to use others for their own gain, often without regard for their well-being. Lovely.
  8. Boundary violations They have a complete lack of respect for the personal boundaries of others. Even if you make yours clear, they have no issue overstepping them.
  9. Manipulation They have a tendency to use deceptive tactics to get what they want at any cost.
  10. Lack of accountability They demonstrate an unwillingness to take responsibility for their own actions or mistakes. If you call them out on their behavior, they gaslight you into thinking you’re the problem.
  11. Lack of empathy Despite their empathic tendencies, an empathic narcissist lacks the ability to truly empathize with others’ experiences or feelings.
  12. Need for attention They have the desire to be the center of attention and receive admiration from others at all times. In addition, they hate fading into the background and will often act out or cause drama when they’re not center stage.
  13. Jealousy They have a tendency to be envious of others’ accomplishments or possessions. As it turns out, they don’t understand or accept that there’s room for everyone to succeed.
  14. Emotional instability At their worst, they have the tendency to be emotionally volatile or unpredictable. While they pride themselves on remaining even-keeled, their narcissism often gets the better of them.
  15. Arrogance Because they think they’re the most important person in the world, they often show a sense of superiority and condescension toward others.

How to cope

  1. Set boundaries. While they may not respect them, it’s still important to be clear about your own boundaries and communicate them to the empathic narcissist. Stick to them firmly. After all, you don’t want them to claim they “didn’t know” what you expected from them.
  2. Practice self-care. Take care of your own needs and prioritize your own emotional well-being. At the end of the day, you’re the person who’s always going to be there for you. Look after yourself.
  3. Maintain perspective. Remember that the empathic narcissist’s behavior is not a reflection of your worth or value as a person. While it’s tempting to take things personally or blame yourself for their behavior, it’s not your responsibility.
  4. Seek support. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist for support and guidance. You shouldn’t have to suffer alone because you feel isolated. There are always people there who would be happy to help you.
  5. Be assertive. Speak up for yourself and advocate for your own needs, even if it means confronting the empathic narcissist. The last thing they’ll expect is to be called out for their behavior. Make it happen.
  6. Avoid playing into their game. Don’t engage in their manipulations or try to compete with them. Remain calm and grounded. Admittedly, they’re likely looking for a reaction. Don’t give them the pleasure of one.
  7. Avoid criticism. Avoid giving criticism, even if it is constructive, as it may trigger their defensiveness and anger. You don’t want to engage with an empathic narcissist because it won’t get you anywhere.
  8. Stay focused on facts. Avoid engaging in emotional arguments and stick to discussing factual information. They can’t argue with facts (but they will try).
  9. Consider your options. Evaluate whether it is worth maintaining a relationship with an empathic narcissist, and if not, consider ending the relationship. After all, you don’t have to stick around in a situation that’s not good for you. In fact, you shouldn’t!
  10. Practice forgiveness. Forgiving the empathic narcissist may help you let go of resentment and move on from the relationship. However, practicing forgiveness does not mean condoning their behavior or tolerating it in the future. It’s all about making your own life better and more tolerable.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill