“Am I a narcissist or an empath?” It’s a simple question, right?

Narcissists and empaths are completely unique personalities. Narcissists are attention-seeking, vain, grandiose, and lack empathy. Empaths put people before them. They are highly sensitive to others’ needs and don’t see themselves as more important than others. So, are you a narcissist or an empath?

Well, some narcissist and empath personality traits overlap. Empaths need time and space alone when they are emotionally exhausted. To some, this can come across as cold and aloof behavior; a trait common to narcissists.

Empaths and narcissists take criticism poorly, but for different reasons. Narcissists feel criticism is unjustified and empaths are deeply hurt.

If you really want to know whether you’re a narcissist or an empath, answer the following two sets of questions.

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath?

Am I a Narcissist?

what is the narcissistic stare

  1. Do your relationships with family and friends change drastically depending on your mood?
  2. Are you good at reading people and finding out their weaknesses?
  3. Do you think you’re the best at everything, but circumstances hold you back?
  4. Are you always angry at the world?
  5. Do you fantasize about how successful you’ll be in the future?
  6. Are you constantly checking your social media profile for comments and likes?
  7. Are you better at talking than listening?
  8. Are you nice to people for attention?
  9. Is everyone else stupid or gullible?
  10. Do people either stop talking to you or do you cut them off?
  11. Do you resent people who are inferior and superior to you?
  12. Can you talk your way out of things?
  13. Do you feel misunderstood because you’re so special?
  14. Are you too pleased with yourself for outperforming everyone else, or too hard on yourself for not meeting your own standards?
  15. Do you jump from relationship to relationship?
  16. When you fall in love, do you idolize or obsess about that person?
  17. Do you expect people to respect you?
  18. Do you think someone should write your biography?
  19. Are you confident your life is going places?
  20. Are you furious when your friends are successful?

Am I an Empath?

introverts genuine folks

  1. Do your interactions with family and friends change drastically depending on their mood?
  2. Are you good at reading people but overwhelmed by their emotions?
  3. Do others describe you as anti-social?
  4. Do you prefer one-on-one conversations rather than talking to large groups?
  5. You prefer to blend into the background than be the center of attention.
  6. Do you always consider how your actions affect others?
  7. Are you easily drained emotionally and need time to recharge?
  8. Do you hate arguments, so you avoid conflict?
  9. You have a knack for understanding people’s needs without them telling you.
  10. You know that if something is easy for you, it might not be for others.
  11. If someone is in trouble, do you constantly think of ways to help them?
  12. Do you sometimes find everyday activities intolerable?
  13. Even if no one asks, do you always offer your help?
  14. Do others label you shy or aloof?
  15. Are you a better listener than a talker?
  16. Do you have problems setting boundaries?
  17. Are you good at cheering someone up when they’re upset?
  18. Do you find others don’t understand your need for alone time?
  19. You find that people always come to you for help.
  20. Do you delight in your friend’s success and feel it as if it’s yours?

If you answered yes to more of the narcissist questions, it’s likely you are a narcissist. Answering yes to more of the empath questions shows you’re an empath.

So, are you convinced that you are a narcissist or an empath? If you are still confused, you’re not alone. Narcissists can be confused with empaths, and here’s why.

Why Do We Confuse Narcissists with Empaths?

Narcissists Have a Real Self and a False Self

Narcissists have a Real Self and a False Self. Their Real Self is self-loathing, angry, ashamed and jealous. This is the side of them hidden from the public gaze.

The False Self is a construct narcissists present to the world. This is the mask they wear to cover up their inadequacies. The False Self brims with confidence and charisma and is changeable.

The difference between the Real and False Self is called the Narcissistic Gap. Negotiating this gap is hard work and tiring, leading to some narcissists needing time alone (similar to empaths).

Narcissists can fake positive personality traits, such as empathy and kindness. And here lies the problem. Narcissists believe their False Self is the authentic version of themselves. They convince themselves that the traits they project in their False Self are their true personality.

The False Self is so powerful it convinces others as well. This is the reason it’s so challenging to work out whether you are a narcissist or an empath.

Narcissists, especially covert narcissists, are skilled in mirroring back qualities valued in other people. A narcissist can appear empathic. However, narcissists use mimicking tactics to hook potential victims.

Empaths naturally tune into other people, but they don’t use this skill to manipulate. Empaths are genuinely concerned about the welfare of others.

Empaths Have a Weak Sense of Self

Empaths don’t have a False Self. In fact, they don’t have much of a sense of self at all. Empaths are so sensitive they soak up the egos and characteristics of those around them. Their persona is also ever-changing, depending on who they are with. Empaths use their changeable self to connect on a deeper level with others.

As empaths have very little sense of self, this can lead them to question their identity. Empaths’ sense of self depends on who they are with. Spending time with a narcissist can lead to the empath mirroring narcissistic traits. Their personality is filling up with narcissistic characteristics. Empaths can mistakenly believe they are narcissists.

This False Self and a lack of self muddies the distinction between narcissists and empaths. Narcissists mistakenly believe they are empaths because they are so adept at reading people. Their skill at mirroring people fools them into believing they are sensitive and enlightened souls.

Final Thoughts

Narcissists can pretend to be empathetic, and empaths can act narcissistically. Narcissists are concerned only about themselves. Empaths put others before their own needs.

If you are still asking yourself, am I a narcissist or an empath? here is one more question to help you find out:

Who benefits from my actions?

If the answer is always you, there’s your answer.


  1. psychologytoday.com
  2. drjudithorloff.com

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Julie

    Hello Janey,
    Your notes are inclusive and so helpful. Thank you for sharing your insight. Sincerely, Julie Ainger

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