1. The empath enters the relationship wanting deep, unconditional love. The empath is attracted to the narcissist, and feels their need for affection is being met even if the narcissist isn’t doing anything to develop the connection. The empath feels fulfilled and “in love” just from being around them.
2. The empath begins to believe that they have a “once in a lifetime” kind of connection with the narcissist, and the narcissist affirms it – what they have is special. This is what makes it seem impossible to just walk away.
3. The narcissist can, at times, seem to want the relationship as much as the empath does. In reality, the narcissist wants nothing but constant validation, and someone who is always willing to give it is a perfect match.
4. Over time, the empath will be made to feel incompetent. Even if not stated directly, the narcissist will imply that they have the power by saying they “don’t want to hurt” them, or by looking down on their interests, or maybe not letting them handle the day-to-day bills or anything else that’s a symbol of control. This will leave the empath feeling reliant on the narcissist, believing that they “need” them, or at least that nobody else would want them.
5. As their bond grows, the empath will find it unbearable to see the narcissist in any kind of pain. They will want nothing more than to talk to them, help them, cheer them up… do whatever it takes so they can feel better again. They subconsciously want to “fix” the narcissist, or at least change their lives.
6. What the empath does not realize is that the feeling or idea of healing their partner’s deepest, most unresolvable wounds, feels the same to them as healing their own. However, it is not the same thing.
7. Somewhere along the line, the empath begins to feel afraid to advocate for their true needs – it is more appealing to them to remain more likable (but secretly less happy).
8. The more love, care, devotion, affection and work the empath puts into making the relationship work, the more powerful the narcissist becomes. At this point, it can be difficult to see that there are any real issues in the relationship… that is, until the empath reaches their breaking point.
9. Eventually, the empath begins to adopt the traits of the narcissist. Because their emotional needs are not being met (and they’ve been confusing their partner’s emotional needs with their own) they start to seem “selfish,” or at least predominantly concerned with their own well-being. They are essentially declaring: “My feelings matter,” and the narcissist does not like this.