Empaths, Emotional Unavailability, & Our Relationships With Narcissists
I have read so many articles about the special qualities of an Empath, and how they might protect themselves from Narcissists, and the negative energies of the world. What I am seriously desiring to read, are articles that describe how Empaths are human, who are not just victims or martyrs, who have serious issues they need to work through, if they are ever to evolve. Here is an article with a more human and accountable take on Empaths, their relationships with Narcissists, and the emotional unavailability they must face, in order to grow.
There are millions of self-described Empaths on this planet.
I have spent my life surrounded by Empaths, and I consider myself one. Though, I define myself this way, with some reservation.
Why would I feel this way, considering Empaths are so amazing?
I have come to a point in my life where I seriously question the amount of ego that people become identified with, when they frame their experiences in life, through the context of being an Empath. I have come to wonder if in many cases, Empaths are stunting their own development, growth, and capacity to be open to true love and intimacy, by labeling themselves as such. I see so many Empaths projecting their issues upon others, absolving themselves of any responsibility for their own or another’s pain, and instead telling themselves and others they are righteous, good-hearted, healers.
It is though pop-culture, and these individuals themselves, view that being an Empath is synonymous with being solely a force of clear-seeing awareness, angelic good, in every context. Many articles elevate Empaths to a status of immunity from perpetrating the “evils” of human existence, while giving “advice” on how an Empath might protect oneself from everything trying to victimize Empaths. As though living in the messiness, noise, corruption, destruction, and harshness of this physical, earthly life, is a daily affront and disappointment to these sensitive souls, who must protect themselves from so many “bad” forces trying to drain or attack them. No one seems to see the blood on the hands of an Empath. Empaths are the special, idealized victims and martyrs of our time. They could never be a perpetrator, if always associated with the identity of a victim or martyr.
Humorously to me, Narcissists, the counterpart in a strange, dramatic relational polarity with Empaths, receive much of the brunt of blame for the evils of humanity. They are supposedly the arch enemy of Empaths, lurking in the shadows to prey upon them. And, despite Empaths knowing Narcissists are “evil”, emotionally unavailable, opportunistic, hostile, manipulative, vampiric, and essentially, immature, Empaths can’t get enough of them. Narcissists are who Empaths apparently love to love, which is something I have learned from direct experience in my own life, as well as from observing the Empaths around me. I don’t think it is just a coincidence that Empaths end up with Narcissists, as I believe they are our match in terms of the level of self-delusion, and thus emotional unavailability, we Empaths carry on this planet.
Most Empaths are emotionally unavailable, despite being sensitive, intuitive, highly emotional, empathetic, and caring. This emotional unavailability is expressed differently than say, a Narcissist’s unavailability. Let’s say an Empath’s emotional unavailability is expressed in a more covert fashion.
Before all the Empaths reading this dismiss what I have shared, let me explain. This might help you.
First, here are some questions meant to encourage you to begin to uncover the ways Empaths might be expressing emotional unavailability. Read with the implication that this is a question for you, or for someone you know.
- Are you an Empath that seems to always attract emotionally immature and exploitative individuals?
- Are you an Empath who repeatedly ends up in situations where you are being used and abused, and called to care-take others to a ridiculous degree?
- Are you an Empath who repeatedly is misunderstood and scapegoated in your family system, or in the workplace?
- Are you an Empath who insists that the world is too harsh for you, and you must sequester yourself in your home, and not expose yourself to toxicity?
- Are you an Empath who has only one close friend, and despite feeling isolated and lonely, you justify this by defining yourself as an introvert or “shy”, and that most people you would be socializing with, are not really at your level anyways?
- Are you an Empath perpetually struggling with all sorts of physical health issues, and claim this is just from taking on others’ energy?
- Are you an Empath who claims most of your emotional experiences, and especially anger, depression, and sadness, are manifestations of you picking up on others feelings, and expressing them as your own?
- Are you a therapist, psychic, intuitive, and/or healer who ends up often dating Narcissists?
These questions all point to an expression of emotional unavailability towards others and oneself, that perpetuates an Empath’s pain and suffering. These questions also point to ways an Empath MUST learn emotional availability as a means to overcome getting caught in these dynamics.
So, in the context of Empaths, what exactly is the emotional availability they need to be learning about?
Emotional availability is at its core, is embodying self-love, and remaining open for accountable and authentic relationship with another, rather than occupying oneself with many defensive patterns that serve to “protect” the self (i.e. occupying oneself with ego).
The overt patterns of emotional unavailability that we all seem to recognize in our culture, are addiction, abusive behaviors, stonewalling, avoidance, exploitation, lying, mind-games and distance. These overt patterns are carried out by people often placed in the role of perpetrators in our culture. However, when someone uses defenses related to being a victim and/or martyr, to protect themselves from true intimacy, the ways they show emotional unavailability arise differently. This is a more covert form of emotional unavailability. If someone is consistently setting themselves up in dynamics to be used, exploited, misunderstood, and harmed, and feel self-righteous anger or pain, to justify not getting the intimacy, affirmation, support, and love they supposedly desire, THIS is also another way of being emotionally unavailable. If these individuals were emotionally available, they would have simply sought out a no-drama, loving, nurturing environment and person, to not have to replay this constant rejection and pain, as well as to not have to repeat the striving to not over-give, to hide, fight back, or prove oneself, over and over again.
In the context with covert emotional unavailability seen in Empaths, whether or not they have learned and embraced true self-love, is at the core of this emotional availability. To further elaborate, embodying self-love is knowing, experiencing, and expressing deeper accountability, emotions, boundaries, needs, and desires, and an investment in one’s own (future) health and well-being. Blaming others and the world (i.e. seeing our self as a victim) for our lack of boundaries, discomforts and pains, as though through no fault of our own, we are just being exploited and drained, is actually a form of emotional unavailability. We are not seeing the ways we are complicit in the pain, and are avoiding opportunities for connection and intimacy by being preoccupied with our own pain, and are thus not available to our deeper self, and to others. If our sense of self-love, and the emotions and qualities of self within, were available to us, we wouldn’t need to elevate ourselves as being overly special Empaths, we wouldn’t need to blame, and nor would we enter into situations where we end up harmed. This immense focus on being a victim or martyr, removes us from genuine intimacy and relationship with our self and others.
What many of us do not realize, is that the reason we attract Narcissists and find them so alluring, is because THEY ARE the medicine we need to finally become desperate enough to do the deeper work, take responsibility for our self, and finally learn emotional availability. They show us the harm caused by being emotionally unavailable, as they live like this most of the time, and we watch them blindly blaming everyone and everything for their experience. They cause an immense amount of harm on this planet because they are not emotionally available to themselves and others, on a deeper level. And, to be a match for them, where we love them and are extremely close to them, despite how harmful they are, means we are not emotionally available to ourselves and others, on a deeper level, either.
Being with the Narcissist is supposed to be a mind-f*ck That is a spiritual gift a Narcissist gives to an Empath. Narcissists are the ones who thoroughly disorient us, through their stubbornness and delusional sense of being “right”, while they begin to prey on our willingness to look within, and slowly brainwash us into believing we must be “wrong”. They encourage an extraordinary level of self-doubt and self-reflection, and we end up loving them, and being so addicted to this love, that we are willing to investigate all areas of our fault, for the sake of trying to preserve the relationship, and not be discarded. They trigger our deepest traumas, and our pains of loneliness, low self-worth and shame, for us to finally face and heal. These are places deep inside, that the love with a Narcissists rips open, that we have conveniently avoided in our lives, as well as in most other interactions.
We learn to love our selves and to find this emotional availability, expressly by reaching a pain so deep we MUST transform in order to survive, and to avoid ever ending up in a relationship with a Narcissist again. We learn by giving the most we have ever given, loving them immensely and not having it be enough, by being blamed and shamed, and by eventually engaging in desperate battles where as Empaths, we become aggressive and rageful. We learn by unearthing all of the darkness within us, and ways we have hidden from full accountability by playing victim and martyr.
This unearthing found at rock bottom IS the way we become more whole, the way we become emotionally available, and thus the way we stop attracting, seeking out, and saying yes to situations and people that lack emotional availability.
Thus, as Empaths we cannot experience emotional unavailability in our lives from others, be mortally harmed by them, and remain connected and intimate with them, unless we ourselves have our own issues with emotional unavailability we must address.
Here is a great opportunity to stop playing perpetrator, victim or martyr, find your empowerment beyond ego, and let yourself grow beyond emotional unavailability. I promise all Empaths, and anyone else reading this article, you will be much happier and healthier when you find emotional availability in your self, and the rest of your life!