What Is a Dark Empath? 8 Traits of the Most Dangerous Personality Type

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Can an empath have dark traits? For example, can an empath fake kindness or have selfish motives? Well, if the latest research is anything to go by, it is indeed possible. In 2020, a group of psychologists at Nottingham Trent University did a study that classified 20% of their 991 participants as dark empaths. And what is a dark empath? This guide aims to shed more light on this unusual personality. We also look at the eight distinct attributes of a dark empath.

What Is a Dark Empath?

A dark empath is a person who possesses the abilities of an empath and also dark traits. These are cognitive empaths who feel others’ emotions as their own but never reach out to help those people. Worse still, they use their empathetic gift to their advantage. Dark empaths fit the Dark Triad personality traits like narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. 

The Traits

There are eight ways you can know if someone is a dark empath. These are: –

#1: They Are Cold and Cruel

It is rare to see a dark empath showing concern for others. If they do, it could be a show, hoping to get something in return. For example, they can pretend to like babies, interact with the elderly, or serve the homeless. Deep within, they are neither affected nor concerned about the plight of these people.

Indeed, a dark empath can sense all the emotions from people near them. Yet, it takes a lot to affect the cold-hearted dark empath personality.

#2: They Never Let Go of a Fight

They hate being last or perceived as being on the losing end. It could be a classmate who cheats during exams because they fear getting the lowest scores. Likewise, a coworker can use their perceived kindness to influence their superiors into getting a promotion. It does not matter whether there is real competition or not. They will do all they can to defend their pride or perceived status.

#3: Take Advantage of Their Empathetic Gifts

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Usually, an empath can sense the sadness, anxiety, or distress in another person. And when they do, they use this knowledge to help the person in need. Now, a dark empath will prey on other people’s emotions and use them to their benefit. For example, they can guilt-trip, manipulate, or blackmail their loved ones to change how they feel, think, or behave.

#4: They Want to Hurt Others: Secretly or Openly

Have you ever met a person who always wishes misfortunes on others? Dark empaths are passive-aggressive individuals. Here, they try to avoid honest confrontations, yet, they want harm to those around them.

#5: Is Always On a Revenge Mission

If you ever wrong them, they will always hold a grudge against you. They can forgive but never forget the wrong. Most dark empaths retaliate on a cheating spouse or a friend who owes them money when they least expect it. It is their way of getting closure.

#6: They Treat Deception as Normal

They will deceive you and show no remorse about it. In turn, this empath views white lies as acceptable, as long as the lie suits their desires and plans. For example, if you are in a romantic relationship with a dark empath, they will dress up, buy you gifts, take you out, and try to please you even though they have no romantic feelings towards you. Here, they could be in the relationship for the money, visa, kids, or convenience.

#7: They Put Their Interests First

Before they decide to help or get into a partnership with anyone, they must determine what is in it for them. For example, the empath only lends money when sure the person will pay it back right away. Or, they take part in philanthropic work but have a hidden motive to gain recognition from it. In turn, a dark empath will put a smiling face to encourage a particular behavior. However, they usually have something up their sleeves.

#8: Have a Never Ending Desire to Influence Others

This type of empath loves prominent positions. They look for opportunities to influence others. For example, they prefer being the policymakers rather than policy implementers. And, since dark empaths have the advantage of knowing and understanding other people’s emotions, they can become much more dangerous than narcissists.

Dealing with a Dark Empath

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Can you relate to any of the dark triad traits of a dark empath? Or, do you know anyone who has them? Here are some tips to help you cope: –

#1: Be compassionate

A dark empath is an individual with feelings like everybody else. Acknowledge it when you hurt them. And show them appreciation when they go the extra mile for you.

#2: Never scold a dark empath in public

Remember, this individual will do all they can to uphold their image in society. Hence, they will never forgive you for undermining them before others.

#3: Have an arm’s length relationship with them

Never let this empath know what makes you tick. And never expect anything in return. That way, they will struggle to use your weaknesses against you.

#4: Never believe anything a dark empath says unless there is concrete proof to support it

The empath will use white lies to convince you to do things that you will regret later on.

#5: Avoid getting into fights or competitions with them

They will never accept defeat. Instead, be the first to extend an olive branch when you are in the wrong.

#6: Be in a supportive group

Note that this kind of empath knows how to play mind games. They can fool you more times, but they struggle to fool everyone all the time. In addition, surround yourself with people who can give you a genuine second opinion. Reach out to them when you sense any danger.


So what is a dark empath? A dark empath uses their empathetic gifts as a weapon for self-gain. Hence, if you are in a toxic relationship with a dark empath, find ways to get out of it soonest possible. Where the dark empath is your child, parent, sibling, or family members, use the coping mechanisms above to protect your emotional wellbeing.