Energy Vampires, Empaths & Betrayal — A Painful Trifecta

By Dr. Debi Silber

How is an empath and an energy vampire the perfect storm? How does betrayal impact an empath differently than others? If you’ve been betrayed and wondering why it impacted you so hard, or if you’ve been told you’re making things up or being overly sensitive, lots of validation is about to come your way.

The empath is so attractive to the energy vampire (let’s say the narcissist, for example) because they serve as narcissistic supply. That means that the qualities of an empath serve as the perfect fuel, which helps to recharge, feed, and fuel the narcissist. The narcissist doesn’t have the same wiring or level of empathy as the empath, and because we just can’t fathom that this is how people are, we’re almost blind to it, until we’re not. 

Regardless of the type of energy vampire someone is, this type of person drains an empath of their energy because of their focus on themselves. With the empath giving without replenishing their vital energy reserves, it’s easy to see how this setup can quickly become physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. 

Now take it one step further. If you’ve been in relationships with energy vampires, you’re already starting out in a compromised position because you’re most likely mentally and emotionally drained which often leads to stress-related symptoms, illnesses, and conditions too. So, it’s easy to not feel your best, which you may have gotten used to as being your new normal. Then let’s say you’re blindsided by a betrayal that totally took you by surprise, affecting you on every level. You may have felt off kilter to start with and in that weakened state got completely knocked over. While we can’t undo the betrayal, knowing you’re an empath will definitely explain why it hit you as hard as it did.

While many people can easily set boundaries to protect their energy and well-being, empaths give to a fault and often find other people’s pain intolerable. Empaths also go to great lengths to help when someone appears to be struggling. They become so emotionally entrenched in someone else’s challenges that they can feel them as if they’re their own. Possible unhealed wounds of the empath can also lay the groundwork for even more giving, and they can easily misinterpret the energy vampire’s attention as true friendship or love. The energy vampire knows this and uses the big heart, compassion, sensitivity, and devotion of an empath as food and fuel. So, what does this have to do with betrayal? 

Because an empath is so aware of the feelings of others, they understand how a mean, selfish, or harmful act would hurt someone. They’re very conscious of how their actions impact others, and they often assume that others share that same philosophy. That’s one of the biggest reasons that betrayal can be so shocking and especially damaging to an empath. Between the assumption that others are on the same page, coupled with the intention to help and heal the energy vampire, it’s easy to see how betrayal can blindside an empath. Of course, betrayal is a big shock to anyone, but to the empath, hurting another isn’t typically an intention or in their realm of consciousness. So, finding themselves in the web of the energy vampire and then being betrayed by the very person they gave their trust, love, time, and attention to is an incredibly huge shock to the body and mind because it’s something so completely inconceivable. 

While being an empath may be challenging, it’s also a beautiful and extremely rewarding quality. Being an empath makes others feel safe and heard when they’re with us, it’s what makes us wonderful healers, and it’s what enables us to experience such amazing levels of joy from nature, animals, children, and more. While we can experience soul-crushing blows, heartache, intense emotional pain, anguish, and despair, we can also experience unimaginable levels of joy, bliss, hope, and love. 

Until we know we’re an empath, however, life can be challenging and confusing. 

Empaths just don’t have the same filters shielding out an overload of too much stimulation, noise, darkness, and negativity. So, those qualities and situations penetrate right through. The benefit of not having that filter in place is that empaths feel what others may not pick up on; we can be extremely intuitive and interpret messages that others may miss. It’s as if some people have a few layers of bubble wrap on them, while the empath has only the sheerest layer of paper-thin protection. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to protect ourselves from energy vampires who feast on us like an easy meal. 

Empaths can also have amazing qualities where we give others the benefit of the doubt, we make decisions based on our values and integrity, we’re loyal, trusting, and we hang in there because we believe it’s the right thing to do. These are beautiful qualities that shouldn’t be squelched, they’re just not appreciated or respected by an energy vampire.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? Learning who you are, what you need, and whom to steer clear of is a powerful first step. Being blindsided by someone who does these things allows you to know firsthand what it feels like. Hopefully, it’s that feeling that serves as a strong reminder of what you don’t want in a friend, partner, or anyone else you’re spending your precious time with going forward. 

All of this can have an empath feeling a bit exhausted. On the one hand, you’re discovering who you are, and on the other, you’re upset that your beautiful qualities were used and abused. On the one hand, you love how easily you’re called to give, and on the other, you wish others wouldn’t take so easily. On the one hand, you love the deep connection you’re able to experience with certain people, and on the other, you wish you could just talk about trivial things like everyone else. Yes, being an empath can be exhausting, especially if you don’t know how to protect yourself. You don’t have those extra layers that shield you against the harsh elements life can sometimes throw at you. You also may not have the heart to firmly set boundaries unless you’re pushed to the brink, and you’re probably realizing that people push as far as we let them. 

When it’s obvious that people need a shift in consciousness—that they need to wake up and be more loving and kinder and show more compassion—it’s the empaths who light the way. When everyone is using fear and anger to get their point across, the empath is using love. As others can miss the beauty in music or art, it’s the empath who’s brought to tears. Yes, being an empath has its lows and, thankfully, a tremendous amount of highs as well.

So if you’ve been wondering if you’re crazy, too sensitive, making things up, and wondering why things seemed more challenging for you, it’s likely because you didn’t know you were a beautiful empath. You couldn’t understand why you could attract people who mistreated or disrespected you. It never made sense why you reacted or responded with so much emotion and intensity, and if that weren’t bad enough, you were made to feel like you were somehow wrong or flawed for being who you were — even if you didn’t even know who you were at the time. Because of that, it sometimes just felt safer and better to hide, to keep who you were to yourself instead of taking the risk of being misunderstood or shamed. 

You are an empath, a beautiful, heart-centered soul that lights the way for others. It’s your vulnerability that’s your strength and your unwavering faith in others that shows others what’s possible when they wake up with the help of your light. You may have been the one who takes the hit, but you’re also the one who rises up. When you do, you’re even more powerful than before, gaining insight, wisdom and love for the special qualities and traits that make you uniquely you.

Dr. Debi Silber is founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute, holistic psychologist, health, mindset and personal development expert, author of Trust Again, and international bestselling author of The Unshakable Woman and From Hardened to Healed: The Effortless Path to Release Resistance, Get Unstuck and Create a Life You Love. Her recent PhD study on how we experience betrayal makes three groundbreaking discoveries that change our understanding of how long it takes to heal. In addition to being featured on FOX, CBS, The Dr. Oz Show, and TEDx (twice), she’s an award-winning speaker and coach, dedicated to helping people move past their betrayals — as well as any other blocks preventing them from manifesting the health, work, relationships, confidence, and happiness they desire.

Listen to her on The From Betrayal to Breakthrough podcast — here.

Recommended: “Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome?” Watch the TED talk… then take the Quiz.

Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2021 Catalyst, Issue 18 - Empaths, Sensitives & Intuitives Summit