Hello, everyone! I am returning to the roots of one of my first ever blog posts: the discussion of empaths. I’ll briefly talk about what an empath is before digging into the topic of this blog. An empath is someone who feels emotions on a much deeper level than the average person, to the point where he/she is able to absorb the emotions of those around him/her. Empaths are also more intuitive, emotional, and intense. Such traits create difficulties for empaths in cultivating meaningful relationships for a few reasons:
- Empaths crave deep relationships and despise shallow interactions.
- Empaths are more likely to become drained from the emotions or presence of others, especially if those emotions or people are negative.
- Empaths need more alone time to recharge than the average person.
- Empaths are more likely to be people pleasers.
- Empaths struggle to implement boundaries for themselves and others.
As someone who is an empath, I am able to relate to the struggles in developing and experiencing healthy relationships due to these issues. I will touch on these points from sources and from my own personal experiences.
First off, empaths are not looking for shallow, temporary relationships from people; they want deep, meaningful, and long-term relationships. According to Lachlan Brown from Idea Pod, empaths are very honest, open, passionate, and self-aware. They like to ask the hard questions, and don’t often tolerate fakeness or superficiality. Empaths repeatedly feel let down in their relationships with their peers or romantic interests due to the lack of deepness, accountability, and honesty others are willing to give them.
Likewise, I have had my share of difficulties in cultivating many deep relationships. I experienced many friendships in which they were shallow because the other party was unable to not only be honest with me, but also with themselves; thus, I was often disappointed and hurt to the point I felt that I was either crazy or misunderstood. Partly why I also had issues in dating was because the romantic interests weren’t interested in being emotional due to their own insecurities or their own apathy. And for me, I need to develop deep interactions in order to have true, genuine connection with those who are in my life.
Secondly, empaths are like plants: they absorb the emotions of those around them-be they positive or negative feelings. As surmised by Krystal and Company from Life by Krystal Elle, empaths are able to consciously or unconsciously feel and carry the emotions of others to the point they begin to experience those feelings as their own. Diane Katherine from Awakening People notes that empaths will often feel angry, exhausted, apathetic, or even nauseous from absorbing the negative emotions of others. Thus, empaths must have healthy, replenishing relationships in their lives, as well as clear and concise emotional and spiritual boundaries.
The concept of empaths absorbing others’ emotions will lead into the next point: that empaths need much alone time to recharge. Judith Orloff, M.D., the author of “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” emphasizes the importance of an empath focusing their self-care on many moments of solitude due to how emotionally drained an empath is able to become from noise, crowds, and even one-on-one interactions. Unfortunately, not everyone who is friends with or in a relationship with an empath will understand the need for this space. They may feel unwanted or uncared for; ironically, empaths take much alone time in order to be emotionally available for themselves and others.
Points two and three strike heavily for me. Since I was a child, I often found myself being weighed down by others’ emotions more so than others. Emotions such as anger, bitterness, sadness, and loneliness became my constant companions out of my own personal issues and due to being around negative family members,friends, and relationships constantly. I went through a period of my teenage years in which I barely wanted to be in social situations due to how much they drained me.
In the past seven years, I’ve learned the importance of self-care. I began to write poetry and to use art as ways to center myself and to cope with any barrage of emotions I might face. Frequent alone time had its periods of sadness, as I did crave company. However, alone time gave me perspective on who I was, who I wanted to be in my relationships, and who I even wanted in my life. I began to listen more to my gut, and have cut off numerous toxic interactions in my life-especially the ones that paid no mind to my emotions and used me to the point I was running on empty fuel. I’m fortunate to now be around people who understand my need for space to be recharged.
Now, for the fourth point: empaths are more likely to be people pleasers. People pleasers, as defined by Sherry Pagoto, Ph. D, are those who constantly put others above themselves. They barely say no to requests, no matter how busy their schedule is. The desire to intensely please or care for others, Dr. Pagoto notes, is from fears of rejection or failures. Likewise, empaths, with their deep emotions, become overly consumed in taking care of or pleasing others, and end up losing some or all of themselves. Patti Capparelli agrees with these points, and adds that empaths are severely self-sacrificial to the point their healthy relationships and they suffer from the lack of self-care empaths give themselves.
People pleasing has been a huge component of my past and present. I became a people pleaser to my parents, my friends, and to my boyfriends in order to achieve acceptance and love. Being a people pleaser is awful, to say the least. It caused much unhappiness, confusion, and frustration in my life and in my relationships. This year, I officially decided to discipline myself to stop being a people pleaser. I want to be able to give my loved ones the affection and accountability they want. However, I will no longer lose myself in order to gain acceptance and love.
Lastly, empaths face difficulties in laying down boundaries in their relationships for their own sake and for others. As stated in the other points, empaths may completely ignore their own needs in order to prioritize their loved ones’ feelings and needs, which is able to create devastating consequences. However, while empaths ignoring their own needs is unhealthy for them, it is also unhealthy for those around them. According to Robyn Reisch from I Heart Intelligence, empaths may act parental in their interactions with others due to how deeply they feel and how much they want to help. Friends or significant others may endure an emotional and mental suffocation by empaths and feel as if their personal space is being encroached. Empaths, as honest as they are, may feel the need to solve problems on their own internally sometimes due to their emotions. Thus, they’ll face complications with others who were either unaware of problems to begin with, they didn’t have the opportunity to discuss their viewpoint, and they didn’t have the chance to see the empath’s perspective.
Point five is something I’m working on in my life. In the past few years, I’ve come to see how my desire to help others and to fix situations actually ended up encroaching on people’s boundaries and left them feeling frustrated, hurt, or upset with me; thus, problems that were easily solvable were made worse. I’ve also seen how-in my demeanor and perspectives on things-I had tendencies of parenting my friends and boyfriends out of misconstrued want to care for them and to protect them. I’ve learned about the importance of giving others space, being clear in communication, listening to and understanding people’s perspectives, and accepting that I don’t have to parent those around me.
I hope this blog post gave more of a perspective and understanding of empaths for those who didn’t know much or anything about them. And for those who are empaths like myself, I hope this was able to bring you encouragement and accountability in how you view yourself and how your relationships are. Thank you, everyone, for reading!