I’ve got two questions for you. Are all empaths codependent? Are all codependents empaths? I think it’s time we clear up some confusion for our community. You often hear people in the narcissistic abuse community talking about empaths and codependents as though the terms were interchangeable. The thing is, they aren’t. What I mean is that while some codependents are empaths, not all empaths are codependents. In other words, they are two separate concepts that some people have mistaken for synonyms. Let me explain.
There are three types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Emotional and compassionate empathy seems to be intrinsic for most people, and cognitive empathy can be learned. So, an adult empath would be able to logically understand what a person would feel, be emotionally affected by what they feel, and also be moved to take action to help them deal with what they feel. For example, an empath might, at the age of 3, notice when someone is hurting and try to comfort them, even if that person doesn’t say anything about it or indicate directly that something is wrong. The child might not understand logically or have the vocabulary to describe what they do understand, but when they instinctively comfort someone, there’s no question that they understand. At the same time, an adult narcissist, who would not be considered an empath, would be able to logically understand what you feel, but they wouldn’t be emotionally affected by it for the most part, at least not in a normal way, and they would not be moved to help you deal with it unless it benefited them to do so in some way.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is when you are dependent on another person in unhealthy ways. It seems to be, in most cases, affected by some form of trauma that often occurred in childhood. It is also considered a behavioral condition as it inhibits your ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. A good synonym for codependency might be “relationship addiction” because codependents tend to be perpetually involved in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.
The Differences Between Codependents and Empaths
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss empaths and codependents. We understand that empathy and codependency are different. So, why do people in the narcissistic abuse recovery community so often confuse the term “empath” with the term “codependent,” if they’re two distinct terms that aren’t synonymous? The answer is as simple as it is complicated. It’s because there are many codependents who do happen to be empaths. But then, there are many who are not.
And, of course, just consider the definition of codependency. As it turns out, toxic narcissists can also be considered codependents, given their excessive need for attention, adoration, and narcissistic supply. They clearly need to be dependent on others for their emotional validation and all of that tasty, tasty supply. But even though they require so much of your emotional energy, they do not have emotional or compassionate energy, so they do often emotionally neglect and abuse their so-called loved ones. Therefore, by definition, they are codependent, but they can’t be considered empaths.
What is an empath?
If you are an empath, you’re highly sensitive to the emotions and energy of the people around you. Empaths tend to be very intuitive and may also be spiritually inclined. In other words, if you’re an empath, you’re someone who naturally “feels” the emotions of other people and acts in accordance. Empaths, however, seem to have a more natural inclination toward naturally understanding the psychology of both humans and animals.
Are Empaths Rare?
Most humans above the age of two or three have some ability to show empathy, which is, on its most basic level just the ability to perceive what other people feel on some level. And many animals seem to have some level of empathy, even for humans, as evidenced by pets who appear to show concern when their owners are feeling blue. But there are different levels of sensitivity when it comes to empathy, and those who are at the highest end of that spectrum might be rare. Still, even the most basic understanding of and concern for others’ feelings makes life easier for everyone.
Are Empaths Real?
Some people seem to think that empathy is a supernatural ability. But while on some level, there are things we don’t understand about empathy, there is a lot of scientific research that explains how it works. In fact, a study focused on a specific type of empathy called mirror-touch synaesthesia offers some very interesting insight that supports the idea that empaths exist. Mirror-touch synaesthesia is the ability to feel a sensation of touch when you see someone else being touched. Study authors Dr. Michael Banissy at the Goldsmiths University of London, along with researcher Dr. Natalie Bowling, the research found that up to 2 percent of the population could be considered empaths.
Why Do Some People Have More Empathy Than Others?
Clearly, there are some people who seem to be more personally affected by empathy than others. For example, someone who might be considered a natural empath would have a clearer and more comprehensive intrinsic understanding of how people feel. Using this natural ability, empaths can quickly interpret a person’s thoughts and feelings.
“The scientific studies that are often used to demonstrate that empaths exist, however, provide indirect evidence,” said Kristen Milstead in a 2018 PsychCentral article.”This includes research showing the existence of mirror neurons in the brain, which are said to enable us to read and understand each other’s emotions by filtering them through our own. Other studies used to explain empaths include the concept of emotional contagion, which is the idea that when people synchronize their attitudes, behaviors, and speech, they also synchronize their emotions both consciously and unconsciously.”
Milstead noted that while the studies explained the existence of empathy as a concept, they didn’t make it clear why some people seem to have a higher sensitivity to it than others. So for now, the idea that there is a supernatural element to being an empath isn’t completely disproven, but that doesn’t mean that scientists won’t decode it in the future. After all, there were once people who worshipped the Sun. Science has a way of explaining things we don’t understand.
Signs of Being Codependent
If you really want to understand the differences between codependents and empaths, it can help to see the signs of each. While you may be both, you may also just be one or the other. People who are codependent typically have the following behaviors.
Codependents struggle to make decisions alone, especially where their decisions would affect their partner in any way.
Codependents may find themselves having a hard time identifying their own feelings.
Codependents might have a hard time communicating in their relationships – even if they’re really good at communicating in other ways and with other people.
Codependents are more concerned with getting the approval of people outside of themselves.
Codependents have low self-esteem.
Codependents may not trust their own instincts and intuition.
Codependents may have an unhealthy level of fear of abandonment.
Codependents may need approval to the point that they’ll even go against their own ethics in order to get it.
Codependents might feel overly responsible for the actions and behaviors of other people.
Codependents are inevitably miserable if they’re not in a relationship, and they’ll stay in a relationship that is harmful to them because they might feel as if it’s better than being alone.
Any of that sound familiar to you? Now, let’s talk about the signs you’re an empath.
Signs You’re an Empath
How do you know if you are an empath? While there are no easily available scientific tests that would prove your empath abilities, there are empath self-assessments, such as the one here, that will help you to recognize yourself as someone who might be an empath. There are, of course, both positive and negative sides of being an empath – and some of them overlap.
1. Empaths Can Be Targeted by Toxic People
Empaths often deal with overwhelming feelings as it is, so when a relationship is toxic, they will feel like they are in agony. They often end up going numb because they feel like they might not survive otherwise. Narcissists and other toxic people seem to be drawn to empaths. Most likely, that’s because empaths are generally moved into action by the emotions of other people. So, when the empath knows you are sad or upset, they do what they can to comfort you. When someone screams and yells at an empath, they will do whatever they can to resolve whatever the person is screaming about.
It doesn’t occur to an empath to feel angry at someone who is so clearly distressed. THAT is what attracts toxic people – the fact that the empath is so focused on making sure they are comfortable and happy in any given moment. It makes for an ideal source of narcissistic supply. And, since an empath is completely focused on them, they won’t have to do much to keep them happy.
See, if an empath is feeling needy and reaches out for validation, they will quickly forget their feelings if the other person expresses strong feelings of their own in the moment. This nature leads empaths who aren’t aware of these types of manipulations to miss the fact that they’re actually not being nourished in the relationship.
They end up starving for validation – giving and giving until they sort of burn out (literally in some cases through adrenal fatigue associated with C-PTSD). The empath ends up drained of their so-called light: they have little energy – they literally are almost “not even there” in some ways. They have grown so emotionally broken that they have literally stopped experiencing these emotions.
2. Empaths Find Large Crowds Are Draining
You will not find a happy empath at a Black Friday sale. In general, empaths can only take crowds in small doses, if at all. That’s why a lot of them don’t like large parties or concerts. And when an empath does spend too much time in crowds, most of them really need to take some time alone before and afterward in order to recharge. If they don’t, they will feel exhausted and tired for days or weeks afterward. In some cases, they may even physical effects, which brings me to my next point.
3. Empaths Need Plenty Of Time Alone
Most empaths require time alone to recharge, especially when they’ve dealt with emotionally difficult situations such as crowds, but also through various interpersonal interactions with people in their lives. An empath who is also an introvert may prefer to be alone more often than not. But even empaths who appear to be more outgoing will still need that alone time – or become unbalanced without it. However, an introvert that is not an empath would need, in general, less alone time for winding down. And in the case of codependents, whether they’re empaths or not, they may feel that they don’t want time alone at all, for any reason. This is one way that an empath can manifest emotional and/or psychological damage caused by their toxic relationships.
4. Empaths Feel Their Way Around New Places
Empaths seem to feel the energy of any location in which they happen to be. In a calm, clean, and organized place that is lit with candles and has soft colors, for example, an empath might feel calm. They might sense relaxing and positive energy. On the flip side, if an empath walked into a room where a crime was committed (sometimes even if they were unaware that a crime was committed there), or if they walked into a room directly after a confrontation as small as a marital spat – they would FEEL the energy buzzing without question, They’d even ask something like, “you guys okay? or “should I come back later?” They might feel uncomfortable or be physically affected, but not be able to put their finger on WHY they know something is wrong. They just know. Ya know?
“Why do New Years Resolutions fail? Mainly, because they are only a statement, or what we wish for in the coming year. There are usually no action plans, no deadlines, no backup plans. Sometimes they are unrealistic resolutions, with no other thought or plans beside the statement.” ~Catherine Pulsifer
Nearly half of all Americans make at least one New Year’s resolution every year, yet statistics show that in most cases, three out of four of them will fail at manifesting their desires. And statistically speaking, resolutions most often revolve around four categories, including weight, money, self-improvement, education and relationships. But only 1 in 4 succeed.
So, why the low success rate? Are we just doomed to fail? What can we do to ensure that our New Year’s Resolutions stick this year?
Maybe that’s because, a lot of times, we make resolutions based on what other people want or what we feel society wants from us. That is, we make the resolutions we think we SHOULD, instead of making resolutions that are in line with our true divine desires.
Remember that movie, Dirty Dancing? And how Nobody Puts Baby In a Corner?
(I know this is a kind of silly example, but just go with me on this for a second, okay?)
Let’s say you are the young daughter of a doctor in the 1960’s. Your family goes on a summer-long vacay, and though your father hopes you’ll spend your free time with the dorky son of the resort owner, your heart wants the dangerous and oh-so-sexy bad boy staff dance instructor. (And really, who can blame you?) You try in earnest to do as your father wishes and like the big nerd, but you can’t seem to stay away from that big hottie and his swerving hips.
It’s the same deal with New Year’s resolutions–no matter how much you think you can change your true divine desires based on someone else’s will, the fact is that you will inevitably turn back toward your own. As the old saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants. And, statistics show, you’re most likely to fall back into old patterns within the first few weeks (days in some cases) of making your resolution.
The obvious solution to the “should” scenario is to figure out what you really want and make your resolutions based on your own desires. Doing anything else is just futile. You’ll just end up frustrated as you experience a significant blow to your self-esteem.
If you choose to make New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure they’re based around your own wants and needs, not those of the people or society around you.
But there’s more. You need a plan if you’re going to succeed.
Instead of fleshing out the hows and the whys of their New Year’s resolutions, many people just blindly resolve to make change. New Year’s Day comes along and they have a goal, but no plans or ideas on how they can accomplish it.
So, for example, let’s say that Joe Blow resolves to lose 50 pounds. New Year’s Day comes along and Joe has no clue how he plans to make his goal a reality. He has taken no inspired action to prepare for his new lifestyle–so he shrugs his shoulders and grabs his customary breakfast of donuts and Mountain Dew, figuring he’ll try again tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow never comes, because Joe never had a plan.
If you want to succeed in manifesting your desires, you must take inspired action. So, in Joe Blow’s case, he could have done his research, found a jogging partner, and restocked his kitchen with healthy foods. Any step toward achieving your ultimate goal can be just the trigger you need to finally succeed–and the more you physically and mentally prepare yourself, the more likely you are to make that goal a reality.
What many people don’t recognize is that planning and taking inspired action towards one’s ultimate goals can actually help to enact the law of attraction in their favor. That’s because as you work toward achieving your goal, you’ll naturally visualize and imagine yourself achieving the goal. This helps you to get on the right vibrational level to attract and manifest your desires. Good stuff, if you ask me.
What do you think? Will you set resolutions this year that are in line with your true divine desires? Will you take inspired action to make them stick?
While there are a few creators who seem to be part of the community there who have a…different philosophy, there are many who seem to be genuine and sincere in their efforts to help others. I also notice there’s a whole different culture and vibe on this platform.
On some level, it feels more personal and also less personal at the same time. It’s difficult to describe, but for the most part, I actually really like it. I’ve already met some really wonderful people there, many of whom began their healing journey with me years ago.
I’m still learning the ropes, of course, but it’s been fun so far.
Now, don’t worry! I won’t be leaving YouTube for a LOT of reasons. Not only can I be more specific and create more comprehensive content for you there, but I already have an amazing and connected community there, and it remains my primary area of focus. Still, I am enjoying Tiktok more than I’d have expected!
Fair warning, if you haven’t already jumped on Tiktok: it’s incredibly addictive and you’ll want to set time limits for yourself upfront. Yes, I am serious. With that being said, it is absolutely doable and can be an excellent way to connect on a more personal level with people who are going through the same things you’ve gone through or are going through now.
One reason I find it so enjoyable is that, as soon as a few creators learned I’d showed up there, they created these beautiful welcome videos for me. Here are some examples for you.
So, if you’re on Tiktok now or you’ve considered going there, let’s connect! Here’s my profile. If not, no worries! We can stay connected on this healing journey in whatever way works best for you. For example, we may already be connected through one or more of the following platforms.
Heads up: The Darker Side of the Narcissistic Abuse Community on Tiktok
Clearly, when you get involved in any social media platform, there are people who might cause you stress and upset, especially when you’re trying to recover from trauma. On Tiktok, there are a few so-called “self-proclaimed narcissists” who speak on narcissistic abuse recovery – much like Sam Vaknin and H.G. Tudor on YouTube.
With that being said, it’s important to recognize that while there are diagnosed narcissists, if they actually have narcissistic personality disorder, there’s a chance that they do what they do not to help you but for narcissistic supply. Even so, people often claim to have found value in these narcissists and their work.
There are also those creators who clearly mean well but who appear to be a bit confused with the advice they’re giving people. For example, they may misunderstand a term and give an incorrect definition or even give really, really bad advice. Just be careful.
About Getting ‘Bad’ Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Advice on the Internet
As validating as it can be to find people who actually seem to get you, I want you to be especially careful with taking advice from anyone when it comes to your recovery from narcissistic abuse. As I said, there’s a reason I have been very concerned with some of what I’ve been seeing from just a few creators on Tiktok. But again – most of them are amazing and really do seem to have a real mission to help their fellow survivors.
I don’t want you to assume that I’m saying every Tiktok creator in the narcissistic abuse recovery space is bad or out to get you. But I have to admit … because you are a member of my SPANily and my own narcissistic abuse recovery community, I care about you and I feel a little protective of you.
So, I am only sharing this with you because I want you to stay safe, and to understand that not everyone who talks about narcissistic abuse recovery is actually an expert – so you need to take any advice you get and double-check it – and only use what feels right to you.
And just to be clear, this is not JUST about narcissistic abuse recovery creators on Tiktok. In fact, I want you to really think about and double-check literally ANY advice from literally ANYONE on the internet on any topic – including me. While I am personally a recognized expert in this area, I am not in your shoes. I am not living your life, and I am not fully aware of your exact circumstances if you aren’t one of my one-on-one coaching clients.
And while we do have a lot in common due to our shared experiences as narcissistic abuse survivors, there are also differences for each of us. We all have different financial and relationship situations, different lives, and different perspectives – so certain advice I would offer might not be quite right for your own situation. You have to be your own best advocate, my friend, and I’m here to support you in that.
Take care of yourself. I appreciate you. Know that you are loved, and know you’re not alone.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a malignant narcissist or someone who has narcissistic personality disorder, you might have wondered on more than one occasion whether you are the narcissist in the relationship. Thanks to the gaslighting and manipulation involved in the relationship, a toxic partner, friend, or family member may have convinced you tha you are, in fact, the one who is toxic and that they are the innocent victim. So, how do you know if you’re the narcissist – or not? What if You’re the Narcissist? (See video on YouTube or read below).
What’s the Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Narcissism?
Would you be offended if I told you that you have at least a little bit of narcissism in your personality? It’s actually the truth! See, every single one of us has some amount of narcissism.
So, let’s talk about that. One of the biggest things that people ask me when they first find my videos, articles, books or podcasts is, “but isn’t EVERYONE a narcissist?” And my answer is always yes. But…there’s more to it than that. See, there is such a thing as “healthy narcissism,” and then there’s what we call “malignant” or “toxic narcissism.”
Healthy Narcissism vs Unhealthy Narcissism
Whether it’s due to our culture, our technology, our parents, or some other cause, a larger percentage of narcissists seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Some people are even calling it an epidemic. And of course, in the past couple of years, tons of new so-called experts have come out of the woodwork, MOST of them doing the work because they have found someone like me and healed, so they’re trying to give back. There are some who aren’t so genuine in their efforts, but we won’t give them any more focus than they deserve.
Is there a narcissism epidemic?
As news and gossip around certain well-known narcissist-types swirl through the media and our minds these days, you’ve got to wonder if maybe there is a narcissism epidemic, right? In any case, there seems to be evidence of an increase in narcissism in our society, and there are those who would argue that there is a certain amount of narcissism that is healthy for most people.
Would you be totally shocked that I agree with “them,” that there is a certain amount of narcissism that is necessary to survive and certainly thrive in the world these days? It’s true. But a healthy amount of narcissism looks a lot more like a dedication to one’s own happiness and success – along with the ability to empathize with and generally care for other people and their feelings.
How do you know what’s healthy when it comes to narcissism?
What does healthy narcissism really look like? Well, it starts with self-esteem. It looks like loving (or at least being okay with) yourself and understanding that you have value without the need for excessive outside validation. It means that you don’t need people around you to be “less than” you in order to feel validated.
It’s being able to be genuinely happy for another person’s success and able to admit it if you feel a little jealous of it. It’s using those feelings to push you to inspiration and success, rather than to feel insecure and threatened by it.
And this next part is especially important. Healthy narcissism must coexist with healthy empathy skills.That is exactly the difference between a toxic narcissist (or sociopath, or person with narcissistic personality disorder/NPD) and a healthy person with a healthy amount of narcissism.
In fact, I personally feel that compassionate empathy – or the lack thereof – is the tipping point between relatively healthy narcissism and malignant narcissism.
When does it turn into malignant or toxic narcissism?
Officially, a malignant narcissist is a person who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) along with other antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-driven aggression. They may also exhibit an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.
But here’s the part that’s really important here – it’s the empathy thing. When we say “narcissists have no empathy,” we don’t necessarily mean that they’re not capable of figuring out what you’re feeling. What we mean is that narcissists don’t FEEL empathy in the same way as most people do. They have no compassion, no remorse and they don’t feel regret – unless they regret a choice they made because it negatively affected them directly.
What I mean is that a narcissist cannot feel genuine empathy, and often, unless it benefits them directly, they don’t even pretend to understand how you feel. Of course, when it suits them, they are more than happy to use the ability to read people in order to manipulate them. In fact, even in the cases where they appear to understand emotion, it’s only to their benefit that they use that ability – only when and if it’s required to get what they want from you. THAT is “cognitive empathy.”
And there’s a big difference between the kind of empathy a narcissist displays and actual empathy. To clarify, in general, real empathy is the ability to sense, understand, and feel the emotions of someone else, even if you haven’t had an identical experience. Now, real empathy might be cognitive, emotional, and/or compassionate.
But either way, real empathy means, on some level, you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You can feel what they are feeling even if you cannot relate to what they are going through directly because you can sort of imagine how they must feel. You feel compassion for them and you care about their feelings because of this – and then you act accordingly.
False empathy is sadly used as a manipulation tactic by narcissists when they want something from you. As emotionally delayed as they are, narcissists are usually relatively intellectually inclined. They can “think about” what someone else is feeling, but it doesn’t affect their emotional state directly, nor does it play a part in how they treat the other person.
Malignant Narcissists Do Not Recognize Boundaries
Narcissists by nature are wired to do whatever is necessary to get what they want, and they do this in varying degrees of intensity, often pushing their victims to the point of emotional exhaustion, isolation, depression, and even various forms of PTSD – and then there are the physical symptoms involved with emotional and psychological abuse.
Considering who these people are and how much they seem to need from the people closest to them, you won’t be surprised to know that they are quite often attracted to their polar opposites, for obvious reasons. While a toxic narcissist will create excessive “rules” for you and will enforce them even to their own detriment at times, they will refuse to accept your own boundaries, and often, if you do have the nerve to try to express those boundaries to the narcissist directly, they will actually intentionally cross them, just because you asked them not to do so.
It is one more way they show you they’re in control. This may start off small at the beginning of your relationship. For example, let’s say you have a new friend who might be a toxic narcissist. You tell them early in the relationship that you really prefer they call you before they drop by. They do at first, but over time, there are little drop-ins that you don’t expect. They’re just dropping off that thing they borrowed from you that one time, what’s the big deal? Or they just happened to be in the neighborhood, but they forgot to call. Do you mind making them a little something to eat?
Then, before you know it, they’ve got their own key and they stop by anytime it pleases them. And they complain if your house isn’t company-ready. Yep. They will slowly push your boundaries bit-by-bit until they completely obliterate them.
Why do we accept this?
We tolerate this kind of abuse for a few different reasons – and you might be surprised to learn why. But here’s the thing. Often, when we end up in toxic relationships with narcissists, we also may have been raised by them – or at least, deeply affected in childhood by some form of abuse or trauma.
Many times, that does come from a disapproving or controlling parent – or a directly abusive one. Or, in some cases, our parents may have just been really neglectful of our emotional and/or physical needs. Let’s talk about why the narcissist chose you and how this is connected to the suffering you’re facing in this toxic relationship.
What do narcissists look for in a partner or friend?
Narcissists seek out empathic, highly intuitive people for a reason – we care about how people feel and we are driven to action by their intense emotional outbursts. This is because growing up, someone taught us that in order to receive love, we needed to keep them happy by doing SOMETHING – we either had to live up to their particular standards for us (and often, those were impossible standards), or we had to stay out of their way, or we had to do whatever they told us to do, or whatever your parent’s particular needs and demands were.
We learned that love was not unconditional, even where it should’ve been, and we learned that our value wasn’t in our individual selves so much as it was in our ability to serve the toxic person in our lives. So, we became people pleasers and we learned that loving someone meant to do anything we could to make or keep them happy, regardless of the personal cost to ourselves and our mental or physical health.
And let’s not forget how easy it can be to love bomb us – as people-pleasers, we are wired to want people to like us, and to seek the best in everyone. We are willing to put up with being treated like we don’t matter, and we are trained to literally put other people before our own HEALTH even – just to make them happy and to feel like they love us – even though that is clearly not the truth. See how that might make for an ideal source of narcissistic supply?
Narcissists Make You Feel Unlovable
In case you didn’t catch it – and just to remind you – the people who taught you that you weren’t lovable unless you served them and met all of their demands – they were wrong. Actual love doesn’t require you to give to the point of physical illness, or to put your own mental health on the back burner, or to ALWAYS give in and do what the other person wants, even when it’s against your moral, ethical, or personal beliefs. Real love doesn’t require you to give until you’re completely drained and never get anything in return. While a “real love” relationship might sometimes look like 40/60 or 70/30 in certain situations, the “average” ratio of give and take should be close to 50/50.
Bottom Line on the difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism? Healthy narcissism is self-focus, self-confidence, self-interest, and personal drive, but these qualities must coexist with a healthy concern for others and the ability to genuinely empathize with them.
Unhealthy, malignant narcissism and NPD involve the lack of emotional and compassionate empathy and concern for others, combined with an unhealthy amount of self-focus. And of course, this kind of narcissistic person is secretly quite insecure and very troubled, in some cases – but you may never know that unless you look beyond the smoke and mirrors.
(Prefer to watch/listen instead of read? See video on YouTube)
Do you know a woman who seems to love being a perpetual victim? Someone who blames everyone else for her misery? Whether she’s your mother, your wife, an ex or a friend or relative, have you met a woman who seems to have sort of lost her ability to get what she wants? If you do, let me ask you a few questions.
First, is she of a certain age? And if so…does she seem to have an over-inflated sense of her own self-importance? Is she ridiculously entitled and does she require excessive and constant attention admiration from the people around her? Does she clearly think she is more important than others, even if she pretends otherwise? Might she have a tendency to over-exaggerate her accomplishments and/or her talents? Does she often talk about how she used to be famous or beautiful or rich?
Does she seem to think she might only be able to associate with people she deems special? Is it difficult to have a conversation with her that isn’t…well…about her? Does she tend to take advantage of people and their kindness? Is she the kind of woman who seems to want special treatment above everyone else, and does she forget or not seem to be able to care about how people feel? Is she conceited or stuck up or arrogant? Does she always need to be the best and have the best of everything?
And what happens if you dare to criticize her? Does she get upset or angry when she doesn’t get what she wants, or when people don’t treat her better than they treat everyone else? Does she seem to always have issues in her personal relationships and friendships?
And despite the fact that she tries really hard to seem perfect and infallible, do you ever secretly think she might secretly be insecure or that she might be dealing with a lot of shame about herself?
If so, you might be dealing with an aging female narcissist. In fact, she may have found that she’s not quite as capable of getting the kind of narcissistic supply that she’s used to. This can happen when the narcissist’s family and friends have just had enough and one-by-one, abandon them.
In some cases, the narcissist loses their ability to attract new supply because they get older and lose their looks, or because they become so self-involved that they forget how to do the whole love bombing thing – or any combination of these things. But a narcissist really NEEDS that supply to continue to exist, right? So what happens then? Do they become a real person, or do they just sort of lose it?
What is a Collapsed Narcissist?
When a narcissist is unable to obtain narcissistic supply, what can you expect? Some people call this a narcissistic crisis or a collapsed narcissist. Whatever the label, it’s a big problem – and often, not just for the narcissist, but also for the people around them.
For the record, let me define the collapsed narcissist: it’s what you get when a narcissist has stopped being able to obtain the proper amount and type narcissistic supply. And narcissistic supply is, in most cases, a person to help bolster the narcissist’s self-worth, self-esteem – value as a human being. In essence, a collapsed narcissist will feel like they’ve been denied the very supply they need to exist – their proverbial life’s blood.
This leads to narcissistic injury, and as the collapsed narcissist writhes helplessly in the pain of not getting what they believe they’re due (whether it’s meeting some big goal or simply getting the admiration and praise they feel they rightly deserve), their whole world feels like it’s falling down around them.
Psychology of the Collapsed Female Narcissist
When it comes to the collapsed female narcissist, they will quickly find themselves losing self-esteem and in so many ways, their self-image is nearly erased. They begin to self-devalue and self-doubt. They literally hate themselves to the point that they project this self-hate onto everyone else around them. So, since she figures that everyone “hates” her anyway, the female narcissist may as well hate them back. She sees no other option.
There is no more (or very little) social life for the collapsed narcissist. People, the narcissist reasons, are all fake and stupid anyway, so why should they bother to be kind to anyone? At this point, the female narcissist practically lives in constant attack mode, attempting to force people around her to provide the much-needed supply to which she was once accustomed. She becomes overly sensitive and full of rage and hate. She throws temper-tantrums that would rival a two-year-old and is outright intolerant, disrespectful, and often even violent in words and even actions to the people around her.
The previously-maintained facade of a nice/cool/easygoing/friendly kind of person falls away and the true face of the narcissist is revealed – rage, ugliness, and general disgust for humanity.
Female Narcissists and the False Self
Narcissists put up a facade or create a false self-image for the world. They need you to think that they are superior and they need to have the best of everything. Of course, covert narcissists put on a very different image of them having low self-esteem, which they really do, and they love to play the victim. They might also appear to be quite altruistic, but they only do this in order to get attention, not to actually help anyone. Grandiose and covert narcissists project themselves differently, but they both are just as manipulative, dangerous, and lack emotional and compassionate empathy.
All narcissists thrive on narcissistic supply which they get from others who they use, manipulate, and abuse. Female narcissists are, in so many ways, just like those mean girls that you hear about. They do what they can to make their appearance flawless, and narcissists who become mothers manipulate and control their children. Their kids quickly join the ranks of their main sources of supply. That is why children of narcissistic mothers don’t get to experience unconditional love growing up, and many of them were abused, physically, psychologically, or both.
But what happens to these female narcissists when they age? What do you think happens to them when their appearances change and end up getting wrinkles? What happens to them when their children leave the nest? And may even go no contact on them? And if she is divorced or widowed, how would she gain supply? You can see that is when the world of the aging female narcissist begins to crash down on her, she’s at risk of collapsing.
The Collapsed Female Narcissist in Action: What to Expect
While they are still unable to deal with any sort of blame, criticism, or perceived disrespect of themselves, they are actively projecting their own self-hate to the people in their lives – or maybe random targets such as people of different religions, races, or even political affiliations. This is when the gloves come off and the female narcissist blasts out her blatant bigotry and small-minded ways. You’ll see that anyone who is different from the narcissist is quickly minimized and put into a “not good enough” box (to put it very mildly).
This is also often when narcissists will go all-out to abuse their partners, whether physically, mentally, or otherwise. And yes, even female narcissists will abuse their partners and anyone else who comes into their inner circle. Some narcissists will excessively cheat, or gamble away their money. In some cases, it’s worse than that, but we won’t go into all of that today.
The loss of narcissistic supply triggers defensive behaviors, such as the whole “leaving my family and starting a whole new life,” behavior – in which the narcissist literally flees what he or she sees as the scenes of their failures and attempts to literally start over again. They may lose not only their primary source of supply – spouse or partner – but also their children, friends, and anyone else who used to offer supply.
This leads to the ultimate collapse and often, a mental breakdown from which they may never recover. If you look at the narcissistic personality as a sort of house built on stilts, imagine that the lack of narcissistic supply is a strong wind that causes the house to come crashing down.
The Choices of the Collapsed Female Narcissist
The female narcissist has two choices if she wants to move forward here. She can try to become a whole person and develop real coping skills (and in some cases, obtain a new source of narcissistic supply), or she can remain collapsed and poison everything else in her world in the process.
So back to the house metaphor – the narcissist could burn down all the houses around theirs in order to take revenge on everyone and everything else. What it all comes down to is that regardless of the reason for the narcissistic collapse, the narcissist blames everything and everyone EXCEPT her self. She must believe, ultimately, that she is a victim and that nothing is her fault.
Do you know an aging female narcissist?
If your mother was that narcissist and you decide to go no contact with her, you can bet that her world feels like it is ending. She same will go for any female narcissist you’ve dealt with – but when she is unable to find and secure a new, worthy source of supply, she will become openly mean to literally almost anyone she deals with, and she will believe she is in the right, every single time.
You might call her a Karen, if you were the sort of person to call out Karens.
Remember this. When a female narcissist is collapsing, she might feel like everything is falling down around her. Her world feels like it is nearly ending – and as she pathetically tries to hold on to the self she used to be, to hold on to her past, she will secretly loathe herself – but she will blame everyone but herself for this issue. She may not even recognize that she’s no longer the self she used to be. She may become more insecure than ever, and chances are that she will do her best to keep faking it. She might spend a lot of time in a plastic surgeon’s office, and she might find herself competing with other women in odd and uncomfortable ways.
The truth is that she hates herself for what she has become, even though aging is natural and part of life. I mean, don’t get me wrong – as someone who is 45 years old living in a society that values youth and shuts down women of a certain age – I understand why it can be difficult – especially for a woman who bases her entire value on external things and the ability to manipulate people to get what she wants.
The female narcissist would prefer that reality to be covered up – she wants to hide her current self so badly. As the female narcissist ages, her beauty begins to disappear, her kids are no longer around, and she is losing her sources of supply – those people who inadvertently were her “shield” to the world. And now that she’s no longer able to control people the way she used to, all of those terrible parts of herself she has been working so hard to hide are bubbling to the surface.
That means she will do lots of crying and will not make an effort to hide how pitiful she really is. Expect plenty of hoovering at this point as the collapsed narcissist will do what she can to get her kids back if they’ve gone no contact, not to mention other former sources of supply. You’ve got to remember: She is desperate right now as her world has crashed down.
A collapsed female narcissist can be even more dangerous and crueler than her younger counterpart, believe it or not, and be careful with her, because she will be the dangerous type who has nothing left to lose. It’s isn’t pretty, and while it would be really easy to feel sorry for her, don’t let her pitiful appearance fool you – she is more toxic than she appears.