Advice on the Toxic Relationship of an Empath and an Emotional Manipulator

To post a reply, login or signup

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

My name is Rebecca and I am new here. I stumbled upon this site through my research in the field of psychology on relationships between co-dependents and those with narcissism/borderline personality disorder (sidenote: there IS a different between narcissistic traits and those with NPD- true NPD sufferers make up less than 7% of the US populations). I am finding there are many similarities between codependents and empaths. The main origin seems to be in the childhood of these individuals- mainly those who have suffered some sort of abuse or neglect. These types of people often end up in fast-burning relationships with emotional manipulators (BPD/NPD/or just those possessing the traits) and can even end up in long-term relationships with these emotional vampires simply because they each fulfill a toxic role in the relationship. Codependents and empaths both gain confidence in feeling needed and an emotional manipulator (EM) loves needing and/or using you. It seems that there are red flags with these EM's and I am still trying to learn those red flags out of necessity. For example, EM's have no boundaries, (and often codependents and empaths have weak boundaries so our emotional bodies are easy to infiltrate) they will often devalue you when they feel cornered or abandoned, everything is about them and what they want to do- your needs are not considered, if you try and discuss emotions/ needs with them/set boundaries/discuss something they did that hurt you, they become very defensive/threatened and belittle you for even bringing it up.


Depending on your own past, being with an EM can instantly feel like home which can cause you to feel an instant connection- due to boundary issues, the relationship often moves way too fast.

I have put so much into this research because a) I work in behavior analysis and am constantly trying to use the field to better my own life and 2) For the past 10 years (since I began dating in college) I have dated the same EM (mostly narcissistic traits/poor impulse control/covert addictions or substance abuse issues) over and over again in different forms. As a result, I have been in some terrible and abusive situations.

Now...for the biggest reason of all- I sit here 33 weeks pregnant with a baby by one of the aforementioned men. When we were in a relationship and I wasn't pregnant and sick all the time, I was a lot more useful to him. Now that I am pregnant, as you can imagine, he is not very involved in the situation at all. It is actually pretty devastating (and almost shameful) for me to be doing this without a partner. This is my first pregnancy so it is pretty terrifying overall, but I am definitely (finally) learning why I do what I do and figuring out my own pattern of behavior regrading relationships. Having a baby (especially in this situation) sort of forces you to look at your life and what you can do to stop the cycle for your child.

So, what do you think? Do you have similar stories of relationships with EMs? Have you gotten through that stage and finally settled into something healthier? Do you have specific signs you look for when determining if someone is an EM or otherwise unhealthy for your empathetic nature?

Any stories or advice would be great. I really CANNOT keep up this cycle.


updated by @rebecca-michelle: 03/13/17 06:21:36AM
Kit Kat
@kit-kat
last year
230 posts

Wow, those experiences you've had with the people you've dated sound pretty rough! Sorry to hear about that <3 I'm not sure why we're such magnets for emotional abuse. It seems like you know a lot more than me about these things :) I haven't researched it as much, but I'm always curious.

I'd be lying if I said my emotions haven't been significantly manipulated throughout my life, however I can't really go in depth about it. My sister and I are working toward a healthier lifestyle: we're going to do our best to not "play along." That's one of the best tactics I know of for right now - Keep your cool, keep your dignity, and don't cry, even when they're saying the most hurtful things. Then they don't get that "winning" feeling as much, as well as that "coming back together" feeling that comes with a resolution.

My situation is definitely not anywhere near as bad as it could be.. But emotional abuse really is a terrible cycle. I hope maybe something I said might help!

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

I like what you said about that "coming together feeling" that comes with a resolution. I think the best action to take is a) allow yourself to feel and process your emotions in private if that is what it requires and b) do not facilitate their behavior by allowing them to feed off you- in other words "do not be a blood doll" for emotional vampires. Also, I am very big on trying to self-improve and put those people out of my mind.

Anyways, I hope your situation with your sister continues to improve and thank you for your response!

Guided Eagle
@guided-eagle
last year
10 posts

Sometimes I can sence them but if its a pretty female and im attracted to them its harder. Still the drama in thier life can be a tale tale sign. Also look at thier family and friends. The art of manipulation and abuse is sometimes learned and family members may use those strategys on each other to get thier way. Also they may use those strategies on friends. I have chased after lots of women like this and they always make me feel needed and have alot of drama I try and help them solve. Luckily for me I gave up on that type and met my current girlfriend. She does what she wants and lets me do what I want. No guilt trips no feeling like im afraid im gonna make her mad if i do what I want. She doesnt try to isolate me she lets me be me and i do the same for her. I hope this helps, though seems like youve gotten them pretty much down pat. You just gotta notice it sooner.

Kit Kat
@kit-kat
last year
230 posts

Thanks! Those are great tips! I hope your situation continues to improve as well <3

And I think your child will have it made since you're so aware of what abuse looks/feels like :) We need more parents in the world who can stop patterns of abuse...

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

Thank you for saying so because it is definitely hard to finally realize all of these patterns and how to stop them. I am working on it! :-)

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

Thanks for the tips! I definitely can't bring it around my kid in the future.

Arielle
@arielle
last year
13 posts
As empaths, we tend to draw lost souls to us, and to be effective in helping, we are drawn to them as well. It's not uncommon for us to find ourselves in relationships (romantic or otherwise) with EMs. I myself was in a romantic relationship with one for three years (on and off) and it was an incredibly painful experience. It is hard to begin with for us to set personal boundaries, but then to have someone make you believe you don't have the right to makes it so much harder!In my case, that relationship was the one to make me say "ENOUGH!" It made me recognize that although He was the abuser, I had let him get to that point. I wanted to help him overcome his demons. I wanted to fix him. And in doing so, I let him tear me down to nothing while never making any progress in helping him or myself. Eventually we all must realize that not everyone can be helped, and we are only in control of ourselves. Our actions define us, and our inaction does just as much. Taking personal responsibility for your inaction, as well as realizing WHY and empathizing with yourself, is a good first step into moving forward into a healthier lifestyle.
Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts

Hi Rebecca, you sound like me 16 years ago. At 26 I knew very little about people, I was afraid of them and avoided them and ended up dating every needy guy on the planet or so it seemed. My son's father, looking back was very narcissistic and for the first time in my life I really learned something about people and psychology from him. I was not expecting to get pregnant, it wasn't planned, at least not by me. I could tell you horrible story after story of how he treated me after I got pregnant, my need to do what was right for my baby clouded my judgement to do what was right for my baby... because of the vision I had in my head of what I wanted and not being able to see what was in front of me. He hasn't been involved in my sons life at all... saw him last at 1.5 years old... signed adoption papers at 5 years old and I haven't heard from him since. I then proceeded to marry a narcissist who made our lives hell in other ways (since I was looking for someone totally different... and I found him). Now I'm a single mom of a nearly 16 year old boy. I now have the ability to see them a mile away, it's not always easy to say no, the heart wants what it wants, you have to be really good at using your logic and making tough decisions. All this to say it's going to be okay. If the father doesn't want to be involved it is probably in the best interest of your child and if you have an opportunity to walk away - that in itself might break cycle. I continue to find it hard to find someone, I seem to attract the needy like wasps to sugar. My focus is on my son until he finds his own path because I don't want to waste another moment.

Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts

Such a good point about fixing people. That has been my biggest problem for so long. I want to fix people and I always believe I can. However, you cannot fix the unwilling. Out of all the men I've dated there has been only one who took my advice and decided to make himself a better person. We're not together any more but I am proud of him for making the change. We need to tell ourselves that people don't change, not their fundamental beliefs anyway - what we see is what we get and 99% of the time the changes we do see are temporary because they are trying to please us and not change themselves. So, if someone shows you their true colours - believe them!

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

I like what you said about personal boundaries. I recently set one with the EM I was dating (father of the baby) by saying "We only need to meet up if you want to meet your child, otherwise we don't have anything to discuss." He literally responded with "That is too much of a boundary to set." Who is he to say that?

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

I needed to hear that! I still struggle with trying to tell him in so many words to "fix himself" only for him to say agree and then further isolate himself from the situation. I still hold out hope for him (not for my sake, but for the baby) and it needs to stop. Being someone who studies behavior- I should start believing people when their behavior is pretty consistently hurtful.

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

Thank you for your response. I know of no one else personally that is dealing with what I am dealing with- being pregnant and alone while the dad is "back and forth" about his involvement. It is so hard right now, but I know being with the father is NOT in the best interest for me or my son. That knowledge doesn't make it any easier- I almost feel ashamed to be in my situation. And if the father does want to be involved, I am nervous about what that might look like considering the only relationships he will ever portray are those of an EM/Codependent. That is the kind of dynamic I would like to shield my son from. It is all more than I ever thought I would have to deal with, but I definitely see why I am dealing with it. I realize my patterns now and I realize how I got here. I also realize (most importantly) that I need to change these patterns. But again, thank you for your response- would love to chat more sometime if you are up for it!

Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts
Absolutely, sometimes you just need someone to bounce stuff off of that can put a different perspective on it. Having been down a similar road I would be happy to listen and give you whatever advice I can if it helps. I learned the hard way and my son has paid some prices for it. It's not going to be easy, I'll be honest there but one thing I can tell you right now is you are a strong confident woman highly capable of raising this child and finding the resources you need to get through. So hold your head high, throw the ashamed feelings away and start being the mom you want to be. There's no shame in making mistakes, there's only shame in not learning from them. Msg me anytime :)
Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts
It's his way out, he wants you to bend to what he wants so he can do whatever he wants and if you don't he can leave and blame you. I told my ex when my son was a baby that if he wanted to visit he needed to go to court and sign up for supervised visits to start with because he had threatened my life I wasn't willing to meet him anymore but by law I couldn't tell him no. That's when he completely shut me out and walked away, he blamed me to support his guilt. He didn't really want visitation he just wanted to see what he was paying for. I let him go. Focus on your life with your child and what it will look like without him and build that life. If he wants in there are rules and boundaries he needs to abide by that are in the best interest of the child. If he doesn't like them then he made his bed. You stick to your guns without any guilt as long as your decisions are in the best interest of the child.
Ragnar
@ragnar
last year
16 posts
Well, I can say one thing. You have NO reason to feel ashamed. Really, most people have made the mistake of getting involved with people we shouldn't have. Even if we didn't see it at the time. I know I've had relationships that people have tried to warn me about, but did I listen? Hell no. I was soooo sure that "I" could make it work. Age doesn't necessarily prevent this from happening either, sadly. I know with me, having a child really changed me a lot. It made me look at myself and what I'd been doing, the mistakes I'd made. I didn't want to have my daughter follow in my footsteps and make the same mistakes I'd made. Just forgive yourself and move on :)
Gem
@gem
last year
220 posts
Hi Rebecca, I'm 37 but at 18 was pregnant to a man like this (two year relationship and first love). He'd been the youngest of 5 children put into foster care after his prostitute mothers house was set on fire by a punter. She got herself out and left the kids. Luckily the fire service saved all children. He didn't speak till he was 6yrs old. His past broke my heart. He was 4yrs older than me. His 'love' was all consuming but abuse crept it and got worse and worse. He inflicted physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse on me and each time he'd cry and make grand gestures to keep hold of me. I was young and nieve. I also excused his behaviour in my head and heart because of his past.When he was violent to me during my early pregnancy I knew I had to get away (he'd become even more cold and cruel).He told me nobody would ever want me now!I believed him but the child growing inside of me saved my life...I didn't want any child being around that.I moved miles away to be near my parents.It was terrifying being a teenage single mum but it fought me a strength I never knew I had. I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm so proud of my now 19yr old son.Unfortunately I allowed my son (age 6) to have visits with his dad under my supervision, his dad convinced me he'd changed and wanted to be a proper father to him. He didn't, he pretty much ignored our son and was focusing all attention on me. When he realised I'd never go back to him he secretly asked my 6yr old to get the train with him while I was in a shop...my son refused and that was the last time he ever saw his dad.My poor son had grown to love him and spent the following years needing to see a child psychologist. I blamed myself.There is no shame in being a single mum...in some cases it's the best gift you can give your child...and yourself!You will get through this I promise!Lean on those who love you for support, lean on people here when you need to vent or want advice. Wrap yourself and your baby up in self love so strong it can't be undone!My son and I have such a strong loving relationship... We've been an incredible team together who have overcome so much!I wish you peace Rebecca...and lots of love.Gem x
Jinnifer
@jinnifer
last year
1 posts
I have been in a relationship for 7 years and have had 3 beautiful daughters with a narcissist. It was just recently I discovered that is the word for him. I love him dearly and also regardless of the emotional and physical abuse, come back to him for its familiar and I feel at home. There has been so much negativity and struggle throughout these past years and I just want to be happy. He is a good person at heart as I can feel this but he is very hard to read when it comes to the mind. I am needing guidance as to where to go from here and if its really time to move on..
Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts
Unfortunately no one can answer that for you. The question is, do you want to continue? You can't change him, you may be able to work with him if he's willing to seek counseling and take ownership of his behavior. However a true narcissist won't identify as one, which is what makes them so difficult. Only you can decide how long you want to put up with his behavior and how much you're willing to expose your kids to.
Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

This definitely resonates with me, When I told him I wouldn't meet with him unless he wanted to be involved in the baby's life, he literally opted out of being involved. Now he is set to be involved again- even going so far as to ask if he can be in the room during delivery (which I am not comfortable with). I have to maintain boundaries and rules for my child which doesn't come naturally for me. However, I can't let my own issues with setting boundaries mean I allow my child to be hurt in the end. I feel like sometimes codependent parents unfortunately do not protect their children because they can't protect themselves. I don't want to allow that to happen.

Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

In my opinion, you must protect your children. Even if he is not abusive toward them- they will soak up your dynamic and one day (when they are old enough) they will play out that same dynamic in their relationships. That is why I left before my baby was born- I do not want my son to perpetuate the cycle of his father and his father's father. The reason the father of my child is so emotionally manipulative is because he came from a narcissistic father. The reason I am so empathetic with codependent traits is because I watched the same dynamic play out between my parents. You see the pattern? If you don't put a stop to it, your children could potentially suffer by continuing the cycle. 2 books that can help explain this: The Human Magnet Syndrome by Ross Rosenberg and The Codependent User's Manual: A Handbook for the Narcissistic Abuser by Jon Bet. The last one is interesting because it let's you see how narcissists view empaths and codependents. Hope that helps!

Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts
Maybe you need to sit down with him and create an agreement on what raising this child together but apart is going to look like? Instead of taking it incident by incident where he will yo yo every time you will have a baseline that you both agreed to uphold. If he's willing to do that now thenm maybe hes willing to put some effort in long term and not just playing head games and you will get a feel for how strong your boundaries need to be and what kind of boundaries are most important. In the end if he's out of the picture you can say you tried.
Ragnar
@ragnar
last year
16 posts
I think that's a wise way of looking at the situation. My parents split when I was 8. They'd tried to stay together because of me, but it didn't work. While I don't remember specific details, I do remember the tension and the dissatisfaction between them. So if you feel that it's in your child's best interests to not have contact, that's what you should do. Breaking the cycle is something I wish my parents had thought more about.
Rebecca Michelle
@rebecca-michelle
last year
19 posts

That's a good idea- I am just wondering what the exactly looks like. Setting up a schedule? It just feels so overwhelming because I (fortunately AND unfortunately) came from a 2 parent household. I guess I need to look up custody/visitation plans. I hesitate to call it co-parenting considering who he is- but maybe I should?

Nikki3
@nikler
last year
116 posts
It really doesn't matter what you call it. Yes set up a schedule for who has the child and when, what is appropriate for child support, what days/ times he can call you to talk unless it's an emergency, exposure to new significant others, etc. Whatever you feel you need to discuss and agree on. It's a living document and can be changed as baby grows up and his needs change.

Share This

From Our Sponsors

  • intuitive reading
  • empath book