I am not an easy person to have a relationship with. Don’t get me wrong I’m not “high maintenance” and I don’t have massively high expectations. Despite all of that, I will freely own the fact that I am difficult to surprise, and difficult to keep secrets from. Here’s an example of how being an empath can interfere with a romantic relationship (or any relationship): one night as I was taking a bath, my (then boyfriend) came in to talk to me while I bathed. Out of the clear blue (without a thought in my head about this) I said to him, “Are you going to propose to me or what?” I remember clearly the look on his face. He looked almost bewildered. What I was cognitively unaware of at the time was that he had been carrying the engagement ring around in his pocket for a few days. In preparing for this blog, I decided to ask my husband what things are different in dating me versus other people he has known. In combination with his input I have developed this 9 step guide to having a successful relationship with an empath. This does not need to be a romantic relationship; it can even be a friendship. While I don’t claim to have the market on either empathy issues or successful relationships; I have studied enough of us to come up with a consensus.
- Be transparent: Here’s the deal. If we ask how you are and you attempt to tell us anything different than what your energy shows, it creates confusion for us. While we can’t possibly expect everyone to be as in touch with his or her internal system as we are, we do ask for effort. If you are experiencing stress, own it. If you are experiencing sadness, own it. Don’t make us choose between what your words say and what your energy says.
- Don’t hide anything: Literally anything! Because the empath will know it and feeling it long before you have completed the activity. The most obvious example for me, is him carrying around the engagement rings for a few days. Many times, if something is bothering someone I am in a relationship with I am acutely aware of it. Sometimes, I am even aware of it before they are.
- Be mindful of energy drain: While I have worked hard at eliminating negative people from my life, my husband is still cognizant of this issue. Energy drains can come from anywhere: a residence, people, places, television shows, animals, traffic, etc. There is no barrier to what can drain an empaths energy. In a perfect world, every empath would guard their energy and protect themselves implicitly. However, no one is perfect in this world. Most of the people in my life know I won’t do well at a war movie or an over crowded event.
- Absorption Issues: Part of the nature of emapths is that they absorb the energy in their environment. They don’t mean to, or even intend to do this. Most importantly they may not even know they do this. But this is part of who they are. If you interact with an empath and you are angry, it won’t be too long before the empath is angry as well. My best tip to you about this one is to be mindful of the energy you expose the empath in your life to.
- Connection from a distance: This one can be a substantial shift for a lot of people. Many people are unprepared for the empath in their life to be able to know what they are feeling or experiencing from a distance. It’s a wonderful sign of a great connection. Although it can feel intrusive, I would encourage you to reframe it, and look at it as a wonderful connection versus an intrusion.
- Keep your word: Empaths don’t typically adjust really well to last minute upheaval of major plans. Follow through is a huge issue for people who are in relationships with empaths. Many empaths have an impeccable memory, so to disappoint them is substantial. My husband has learned the value of following through with whatever he tells me he will do/say/provide. The reward is massive; the fall out is rather ugly.
- Pay attention: Despite everything I have ever told you about empaths sometimes the bombardment of energy can be overwhelming. This is especially true if the empath is not skilled in protecting themself. Even though I excel at protection, there are still days I am overwhelmed with the energy. As a result of this overwhelmed sensation, at times I am unaware of what I am feeling/thinking/experiencing.
- Gifts are important: Please do not misunderstand me here… It’s not about the cost of the gift, it’s about the thought behind the gift. The empath knows if you just stood at the video bin at Walmart or if you were paying attention to what she said as you walked through out the stores. I would highly advise against the Wal-Mart movie bin philosophy, it just doesn’t end well.
- Motives are crucial: If you send the empath in your life flowers, do it for the right reason. Don’t do it to “shut them up” or “make them happy”. If those are your motives, you may as well send dead flowers to the empathy. Make sure your motives are pure and the results will follow.
I fear that at this point I have painted a depressing picture of having a relationship with an emapth. Therefore, I want to take a few moments and discuss the benefits to having any type of relationship with an emapth. The benefits include:
- Empaths are extremely honest. They don’t blatantly lie, although they may skirt around the truth to spare or protect your feelings.
- Empaths love with their entire heart. Once you have a committed relationship (of any type) with an empath, they will be loyal for a very long time.
- You will never long for a compassionate response as long as you are in any type of relationship with an emapth. It’s just who they are.
- They are incapable of being thoughtless. Everything they do, say, or think has so much meaning behind it. They are very pre-conceived in their responses both internally and externally.
- They give very meaningful gifts! While you may be laughing at this one, it’s very accurate. Every gift, every card, and every note I give my husband is done with purpose and meaningfulness.
- You will feel validated, special, welcomed and cared about while in a relationship with an empath.
At the end of the day, here’s my recommendation for anyone in any type of relationship: Be as open, honest, and transparent as you are capable of being. Forgive often and extend grace regularly.
Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. She offers in person sessions as well as distance sessions. Learn more about her here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com