Dalai Lama says that empathy is the most precious human quality. Given all the suffering that defines human existence, empathy truly is a gift, a precious human gift. To find people with the capacity to empathize with our sufferings, pains, and even amplify our joys as they likewise feel our happy emotions when we’re happy, makes life truly worthwhile.

There can be little doubt that we need more people with empathy these days.

Empathy is a skill that most people can learn. Like most life skills, it is more easily acquired during the early stages of life.

Like any other trait or skill, people’s empathy levels also differ. Most people possess varying levels of empathy, depending on their current emotional state. Others have just enough to be able to relate to others in their day-to-day existence, while some possess so much that it affects their life, often making them feel too much. The latter is often the case of an empath.

According to Dr. Judith Orloff, one of the well-known experts on empathy, people could fall anywhere within the empathic spectrum. People known as empaths come from one extreme end of this spectrum, whereas people who are considered to be narcissists come from the opposite end. This makes the two very opposite in their empathy levels. Empaths are closely followed by highly-sensitive individuals within the empathic scale.

The higher the level of a person’s empathy is, the more compassion and the better their relationships become with others. Narcissists, on the other hand, can be completely devoid of a sense of feeling for others, making them potentially toxic in relationships.

Who are Empaths?

Empaths are very similar to highly sensitive people. In fact, they are within a very close range on the empathic scale. These people are characterized by their low threshold for stimulation, making them highly vulnerable to sensations from their environments.

This means that both highly-sensitive people and empaths may become easily drained when in a toxic environment. They are able to process information and experience the energies around them in deeper ways than most people. They also require a longer period of unwinding before they’re able to relax again.

The difference between an empath and a highly sensitive person is that an empath is capable of sensing and absorbing energy from other people and their surroundings. This can be a powerful but also potentially self-destructive condition. Empaths also have a tendency to want to fix and heal others. They can be extremely helpful, but if they’re unable to learn ways to empower and protect themselves, they can end up being adversely affected.

Who are Narcissists?

Narcissists are people characterized by their sense of extreme adoration and admiration for themselves. They lack empathy and a sense of compassion, placing them on an extreme end of the empathic spectrum, the very opposite of empaths and highly sensitive people.

Most narcissists have a tendency to want to cause some chaos, out of their need for adoration and desperation for attention and admiration from others. They end up being toxic partners in relationships who don’t intend to give but only take what they can from a relationship. They may easily become angry when they are unable to get what they want from a partnership.

This can be a manipulative strategy to control the other person. Because of this, narcissists are potentially the worst partners for highly sensitive people and empaths.

The Toxic Attraction Between Empaths and Narcissists

Regardless of how opposite their characteristic traits are, empaths and narcissists often end up attracting each other. According to Andre Solo, author, and expert on highly sensitive people and empaths, the two opposing personalities often create a very powerful attraction between them.

For highly sensitive people and empaths, a narcissist can be the epitome of someone they can truly help. Because they are so often used to being caring and giving for others, the exact opposite of narcissists, they see the narcissist as someone who simply needs their understanding. Unconsciously they believe that by providing this, the narcissist will become fulfilled and ‘change’ into their higher self. This rarely happens.

On the other hand, narcissists are attracted to empaths and HSPs primarily because they’re the easiest people to get attention, adoration, and admiration from. They are the easiest to manipulate. There’s no one better than an empath or an HSP to understand and care for a narcissist. This dynamic in the relationship can create a deep need for each other to fill. However, this can end up being a very toxic cycle for most empaths and HSPs.

It is important for empaths to learn to protect themselves and their energy, most especially from narcissistic people or others who don’t look out for them at all. By learning to understand themselves and how their emotions work, they can learn to protect themselves from destructive relationships, people, and negative energies.