Relationship Requirements for Empaths
Empaths must first love and trust ourselves; we need lovers who are emotionally honest and willing to give us space.
Empaths are so sensitive that it can be hard for us to stand strong during an emotional time. We need to love and trust ourselves before getting into romantic relationships. We need to know ourselves. We need to know our values. We need to be solid in who we are and what we believe because we are grounded in our values. We need time alone to figure out what they are. When we are comfortable with ourselves we will always know we can stand on our own.
Once we feel balanced and grounded, empaths need honest lovers who are willing to give us space. I have had healthy relationships that have lasted for years. They worked because my lovers were honest about their feelings. We hurt each other all the time. But we talked about it. If one of us did something insensitive we worked it out. I am friends to this day with all of my long-term partners. If your lover is not empath-compatible leave them and hold out for one that is, it’s worth the wait.
Empaths need lovers who can be emotionally honest because we cannot be responsible for their feelings but we do feel them. If our lover refuses to deal with their feelings we end up with a bunch of feelings we can’t deal with.
I Feel Your Feelings, I’m Not Responsible For Them
We must never forget that our sensitivity to other people’s feelings does not make us responsible for them. Our awareness of their feelings is first and foremost for our own protection and self-growth. Dwell on this fact. Burn it into your mind. They are responsible for their feelings. Not you. If you want to help as many people as you can, prioritize personal protection and self-care.
Empaths always honor the feelings of those we love but that doesn’t mean they’re our responsibility. We will help them if they let us. Be careful though, your desire to help will serve as a cage if you stay to help somebody who doesn’t want your help.
Insist on Emotional Honesty or Risk Abuse
You must always feel that your lovers are honest with you about their feelings. Empaths cannot thrive with a lover who is emotionally deceptive. Usually, these people are also deceiving themselves. They won’t face their own hurt feelings so they want to make it about you.
Because we care so much, especially for those we love, we will be tempted to sacrifice ourselves. We won’t play the normal back-and-forth emotional games that most people play with each other.
Instead, we will take on all the pain. We martyr ourselves. This leads to an abusive situation because they can’t see what they’re doing, so it just keeps getting worse.
The more you get hurt the more they will be convinced that the problem is your over-sensitivity. This is a cycle of abuse. In this way, a normally non-abusive person can end up abusing an empath and have no idea. Ending the abuse is your responsibility.
From their perspective, it’s not abuse. James America wrote an article giving advice to people dating empaths. I think his advice is illuminating:
“Caging an empath is damaging to say the least. Most such people require a good amount of freedom both individually and in terms of intellect. You should not cage an empath at any time. All they need is space and freedom to do what best- feel deeply! Caging one may just be counterproductive and the damage too deep for a relationship. So be aware and less controlling of an empathetic partner!”
So, sometimes it’s good to cage people? And we’re the weirdos. Okay.
You Can’t Make Your Lover Happy
If you allow your lover to make you responsible for their feelings you will suffer and so will they. You cannot make other people happy. They have to do the work. If they want your help they’ll ask for it respectfully. If they lash out at you or hurt your feelings in that special way that only they can, what they need is tough love.
“We have to be conscious of the fact that it’s not our responsibility to change, or heal, or help, or resurrect anyone from their own issues and feelings. We have to trust that no one will change until they want to be changed. When they’re ready for that change to come into their life, then you’ll be there. You’ll be able to show up for them when they’re ready to show up for themselves.”
-Gabby Bernstein There’s A Fine Line Between Supporting And ‘Fixing’
Empaths Aren’t for Everybody
We don’t like to lash out at others because it causes us pain. But that doesn’t mean our lovers won’t feel attacked by us when we say something they don’t like. If they don’t know themselves, we end up constantly telling them what they’re feeling, often accidentally. Some resent this. It does not necessarily mean they are bad people or narcs or whatever. They just aren’t empath-compatible.
Not Broken Is Good Enough
As long as you feel balanced and you’re working through the issues, you’re in a healthy relationship. It’s like happiness. Healthy doesn’t mean perfect. It just means not broken.
Focus on Your Needs
Be honest about the situation so you can make the most rational decision. Is your lover empath-compatible? This is not about passing judgment. Normal relationships have all kinds of messed-up dynamics and they seem to do just fine. Empaths are not normal and our relationships aren’t either. We are exceptional and we need exceptional lovers.
You are the Perfect Amount of Sensitive
Don’t fall for “you’re too sensitive.” No, you are the perfect amount of sensitive. Sensitive enough to know that something is wrong. Trust your sensitivity. Love your vulnerability. You are responsible for your own feelings. That means trusting them.
This is why we must be grounded in ourselves before we enter romantic relationships. If we trust ourselves we’ll have the confidence to make the best choices.
If your lover cannot honor your feelings your relationship can’t be healthy. They need to respect your feelings even when they’re upset. The fact that they are hurting is never a reason for you to tolerate them being dishonest and nasty to you. Calmly make your point, they don’t have to agree and you don’t have to engage in an argument.
If they think your feelings are unreasonable then they shouldn’t be your lover. They do not deserve you and you don’t deserve them. Move on. A balanced, empowered empath is a wonderful lover and friend, get centered and find someone who will appreciate you.
Insist on Honest Lovers
If the relationship is healthy your lover will listen to you even when they don’t agree with you. You might be wrong. If they are willing to talk it through, then perhaps you will change your mind or at least see it from their perspective.
They need to respect your feelings and they need to respect their own. Their refusal to discuss their feelings when they’re obviously upset with you is all the proof you need that you cannot be healthy together.
James America puts it like this:
“Most of these people are sensitive and beyond a point emotional. They are good at reading body language and get the vibe of a person quite easily. It is important to be truthful with an empath. They do not like lies being told in a relationship and can pick up on your deepest emotional issues even if you fake it. Most hate lies and deception and will not forgive you easily if you are dishonest with them.”
Cause you know, lies are usually good in relationships. Right?
Empaths Need Space
Empaths need space to process emotions. If your lover will not allow you that space, leave. You need it. It’s that simple.
If you allow someone to jam up your emotional processing by not allowing you to have time to yourself you will not be able to protect yourself or find balance. We err on the side of self-harm. We must be sure we are on solid ground before we stand tall. We need time by ourselves to find our footing.
If you have had an emotional conversation and you need time to process, take it. Tell your lover you need space. In a healthy situation, your lover should be ok with giving you time to process after they’ve been heard. If you start to feel smothered because they keep texting after they said they would leave you alone, you need to leave them. If you feel like someone is trying to trap you, honor that feeling. Unfortunately, you probably have a better idea of their motivations than they do.
If we were not unusually sensitive we would protect ourselves in the usual ways; we would likely engage in the normal emotional sparring of common relationships. But we are and we won’t, thus we just end up getting hurt while our partner is looking for the offensive responses they have grown used to.
Sometimes it’s just better for us to just leave the room, or as Sherrie Hurd, A.A. puts it in an interesting article that I think gives good advice (although I don’t agree with some of her characterizations of us) for those dating empaths:
“Another issue that many people don’t like to approach with empaths and relationships is the empath’s sudden need to be alone. At any random moment, the empath will request time to themselves, or simply walk away.”
“A plethora of misunderstandings can occur when this happens. Maybe you think the empath is rude or doing something dishonest, but this isn’t true. The empath just needs time to recharge.”
“Yeah well, maybe it seemed sudden to you,” I say, to myself, in the other room.
Most people simply do not understand our experience. Empaths have to know our boundaries and it is our job alone to maintain them. We do this by controlling ourselves, not other people. Don’t compromise your duty of self-care because you want to fix others.
Our lovers must be, honest with us and willing to give us space. We are extremely loving people but we are not for everyone. If your lover can’t be emotionally honest and respect your boundaries they are not empath-compatible. Find another lover but spend some time alone first.