Home » News » Spotting a Dark Empath in Your Relationship: 5 Key Signs
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While many people aim to steer clear of narcissists in dating, there’s a subtler personality to be wary of: the dark empath. Coined by researchers in 2021, a dark empath possesses traits of the dark triad – narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism – along with high levels of empathy. Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, a counseling expert, highlights that this blend makes dark empaths more elusive and manipulative than typical narcissists.

Empathetic but Emotionally Distant

Dark empaths might show empathy but lack genuine emotional connection. They understand emotions on a surface level – recognizing sadness or distress – but don’t truly feel or bond over these emotions. They can read emotional cues without being personally affected, making their empathy more cognitive than heartfelt.

Masters of Love Bombing

Dark empaths excel at love bombing, showering you with affection especially early in a relationship or after conflicts. This tactic, often linked with narcissists, is even more deceptive with dark empaths. They adeptly adapt to your emotional needs, coming off as sensitive and caring, but this is more about fulfilling their narcissistic desires than genuine care.

They Echo Your Political Beliefs

Dark empaths are skilled at mirroring your interests, including political and social justice views. Degges-White explains that shared passions, especially against a common adversary, can intensify emotions. Dark empaths exploit this by appearing as passionate and dedicated to the cause as you are, sometimes even more so. This behavior can be mistaken for genuine commitment, while it’s actually a tactic to win you over.

Narcissistic Behaviors Underneath

Despite their different strategies, dark empaths share the classic narcissist’s traits. They demand constant attention and wear you down in arguments, making you feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Degges-White notes that they need constant ego feeding and often treat partners more like trophies than equals.

Unlikely to Seek Self-Improvement

Change is rare for dark empaths. According to Degges-White, it often takes a major event, like the risk of jail, losing important relationships, or jeopardizing their job, for them to consider therapy or self-improvement. Without a significant push, they’re unlikely to seek help or change their ways.