10 signs you may be a dark empath (and what that means)

Empathy is a beautiful gift – it puts us in other people’s shoes, allowing us to see and feel the way they do in certain situations.

But what happens when we weaponize our empathetic abilities? 

We become what is known as a dark empath – or the world’s most dangerous personality type.

Dark empaths are even more dangerous because they’re hard to spot. For this reason, you may be one without you knowing it. 

Do you know how to tell if you’re a dark empath?

To help unravel if you are or aren’t one, here are 10 signs you’re a dark empath and what it means:

1) Sarcasm is your middle name

Mind you, being occasionally sarcastic is normal and doesn’t make you a dark empath. 

But when you find yourself using sarcasm as a staple in your daily vocabulary, that’s another story.

Because sarcasm is often normalized as part of a good sense of humor, dark empaths use it as a cunning tool to mock people. Their sarcastic remarks are often used to subtly criticize, bully or humiliate someone – without the victim even realizing it. 

For example, saying, “You must be so proud of yourself,” may be received as an innocent compliment.

But to a dark empath, it could mean, “Is that all you’ve got?” or “That’s so stupid.” 

2) You create conflict for your own good

Apart from sarcasm, triangulation is another strategy of a dark empath.

What does this mean?

Mental health experts define triangulation as a method of pitting people against each other to gain the upper hand. 

For example, you and your friend both like the same guy. The typical person would let destiny run its course.

But the dark empath will resort to creating a negative image of the guy so that the other friend loses interest in him – that way, she can have the guy all to herself.

If this sounds like something you might do, you’re most likely a dark empath.

3) You need constant validation

Everyone likes a good compliment. 

But when you’re a dark empath, you don’t just like them. You’re obsessed with them. 

You feel the need to fish for compliments and approval – All. The. Time.

What does this look like?

You have one motivation for frequently posting on social media: to attract more likes, comments, and followers.

You ask your partner at least 20 times a day if they think you’re good-looking.

You ask your work colleagues to provide feedback on your pitch, even if everyone knows you nailed it and won the client over.

Here’s the thing:

Dark empaths may seem confident, but the reality is deep down, they have low self-esteem. 

Hence, the constant need for validation.

4) You’re an expert at manipulating people’s emotions

dark empaths 1 10 signs you may be a dark empath (and what that means)

The dark empath will use their understanding of how you feel and use this to manipulate you.

An example we see all too often is this:

You know your partner suffers from fear of abandonment, so whenever you want something out of them, you threaten to leave them if they don’t give in.

This can also happen in the workplace when you use a new employee’s uneasiness to befriend them and later on, use this bond to get them to do your job for you.

Their empathetic nature may make them look like they genuinely care – but the truth is the only person they care about is themself.

5) You love to play the guilt card

Another way to tell if you’re a dark empath is if you always guilt trip the people around you.

Let’s continue the office example we just used above.

If the new employee catches on and refuses to do what you asked, you resort to playing on their guilt. 

It looks something like this:

“Remember when you were new here, and I was the only one who bothered talking to you?” 

Or something like this:

“If it weren’t for the good word I put in for you, the leadership team wouldn’t have given you a big client.”

As a dark empath, you’re skilled at using emotional blackmail to establish your control over anyone.

6) You’re vindictive

If guilt-tripping fails to get you what you want, you resort to vindictive ways.

Going back to the office example, here’s what a vindictive dark empath can look like:

  • You attack their reputation by spreading malicious rumors.
  • You undermine or invalidate their work – regardless of how good it may be.
  • You bully them through sarcasm and/or triangulation (or both).

If you hold grudges and feel the need to retaliate or seek revenge after not getting your way, then it’s safe to say you’re a true dark empath.

7) You love to bomb your way to your wants and needs

Have you ever showered someone with grand gestures just so you can get something off of them? Is this a strategy you default to to get what you want?

A yes to both questions means a yes to you being a dark empath.

Here’s the catch:

Love bombing is entirely different from love language. The difference is the intention behind these. 

You love bomb as a manipulative tactic, but your love language requires no reason other than your love for the person.

Sadly, love bombing is common in abusive relationships. 

When the abused finally decides to leave, the abuser suddenly becomes extra attentive, super-loving, and seemingly remorseful. Until, of course, the abused decides to stay, then the cycle of abuse-lovebomb-abuse begins again.

It doesn’t always have to look as drastic as this. 

For example, love bombing can also look like giving your boss excessive compliments just so they recommend you for promotion over your colleague.

8) You’re good at using secrets to your advantage

dark empaths 2 10 signs you may be a dark empath (and what that means)

One of your skills as a dark empath is knowing how to use your charm and likeability to earn people’s trust.

You’re good at making yourself seem like the shoulder-to-lean-on type, but they don’t know that your empathetic ears are less for them and more for you.

You’re simply gathering ammunition for use in the future.

One of your scariest traits as a dark empath is that you’re unafraid to use the deepest darkest secrets others share to blackmail them into doing something for you. 

9) You have no remorse

By now, you would have had a chance to assess yourself against the first 8 signs of a dark empath. 

Have you noticed how these dark empath traits have a common theme?

That is: using your skills and others’ vulnerability for your benefit.

But it gets worse:

If you don’t see anything wrong with the signs of dark empaths we’ve discussed above, you probably tick another dark empath sign:

Having no remorse.

Dark empaths don’t feel bad about their behaviors because: 

(a) they were intentional with these actions, and 

(b) the consequences don’t affect them negatively. 

But there’s one exception to this rule:

A dark empath will only feel remorse when their ill intentions end up boomeranging and hurting themselves. 

10) You’re emotionally detached

While dark empaths are sensitive to others’ emotions, they will not allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable to anyone.

So if you consider yourself emotionally unavailable, you may be a dark empath.

Why do dark empaths avoid showing their true emotions?

Because this can lead to vulnerability, which can often mean giving up control – something that dark empaths cannot afford to lose.

Not all emotionally unavailable people are dark empaths, but emotional repression is undoubtedly a characteristic trait of a dark empath. 

Dark empaths: A quick rundown

What does it mean to be a dark empath?

A dark empath is a relatively newly discovered personality type used to define people with dark personality traits combined with empathetic skills.

How rare is a dark empath?

A study on dark empath characteristics published in 2021 found that out of 991 participants, 19.3% are dark empaths. This means that although uncommon, dark empaths technically aren’t rare.

Can dark empaths be good?

While the signs we discussed above seem all negative, it’s important to note that dark empaths can also have positive personality traits. In fact, these positive traits (combined with their skillful deception) are the reasons dark empaths are hard to spot. 

Can dark empaths change?

Nothing is impossible, and change is inevitable.

What does this mean for you? 

It may be hard to change if you’re a dark empath, but it’s certainly possible.

The key is to start working from within. 

When it comes to your personal spiritual journey, which dark empath traits or other toxic habits have you unknowingly picked up? 

Is it the need to be positive all the time? Is it a sense of superiority over those who lack spiritual awareness? 

Even well-meaning gurus and experts can get it wrong. 

The result is that you end up achieving the opposite of what you’re searching for. You do more to harm yourself than to heal. 

You may even hurt those around you. 

In this eye-opening video, the shaman Rudá Iandé explains how so many of us fall into the toxic spirituality trap. He himself went through a similar experience at the start of his journey. 

As he mentions in the video, spirituality should be about empowering yourself. Not suppressing emotions, not judging others, but forming a pure connection with who you are at your core. 

If this is what you’d like to achieve, click here to watch the free video.

Even if you’re well into your spiritual journey, it’s never too late to unlearn your dark empathetic traits and unlearn the myths you’ve bought for truth!

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00