An empath certainly can become a narcissist. In fact, they might be more susceptible to it considering that they are more sensitive to others’ emotions and actions and are strongly affected by them. In addition, when an empath, or anyone, deals with a narcissist, it’s difficult not to take on their tactics out of having no real choice in the matter.
First, the issue of the empath’s sensitivity. Being around a narcissist, you are constantly feeling their agitation, their bad intentions, their attention on you and their constant need; an empath wants to give in to those needs and empathizes with the narcissist; so they stick around and keep those feelings building. And, in fact, can start to become as agitated and conflicted as the narcissist.
At the same time, actual day to day dealings with the narcissist are completely unfair. They will demand more and take more and never hold themselves accountable. Now, the empath’s inclination is to hold himself or herself accountable. Imagine if you did that with a narcissist. You would always be held accountable while the narcissist would never be, because they refuse to take the blame for anything they do. So pretty soon you have all the accountability, responsibility, on your shoulders and the narcissist has none.
Now, imagine the narcissist never does any of the work, wherever and whatever that might be, expects everything from you and, being an empath, you want to keep giving it. Pretty soon, you are doing everything and they do nothing. It is a classic case of the generous person being drained by the selfish person’s tendency to exploit what they see as a weakness and to get whatever they can get from people until they’ve used them up.
It’s not hard to see how this soon becomes lopsided. If, every time, you take responsibility, pretty soon everything is on you. So, soon, you too are the one denying responsibility, because you know the narcissist never will and you can’t keep taking it all on while they continue to avoid their own responsibility. You say, “Okay I’ll do what’s necessary” while they demand that you do more while they don’t have to do anything. At some point, you’re liable to want to say, “Hey, I’m just not going to do it all!”
Soon, out of self defense, you’ve developed the habits of the narcissist, especially since you are particularly sensitive to everything they do. You are argumentative, obstinate, feel like you deserve more (and you certainly do, from them).
The worst thing about all this is that the narcissist can now turn around and say, “See, you’re the one doing it!” They will now say you are the one who is irresponsible, you are the one who doesn’t do enough, you are the one who just likes to fight.”
Out of all their manipulations, this might be the narcissist’s most destructive. Turning the good person into them.