15 Signs You're in a Relationship with an Empath (And Tips on Making it Work!)
If you’ve ever studied psychology or human behavior, or if you are interested in personality types then you have probably come across the word empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to other people’s feelings. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is simply understanding others emotions, because it involves your own emotions. When you feel empathy for another person, you relate to them in a certain way and are able to understand where their emotions are really coming from by putting yourself in their shoes. Most people have the ability to be empathetic (or show empathy) towards others, especially people that they care about and relate to. While you may have come across the word empathy, you may not have come across the word empath. An empath is a person who has an extreme amount of empathy for others, to the point that they are able to take on the emotions of others and feel the emotions as if they were experiencing the emotion themselves. Empaths are highly sensitive and in tune with other people’s emotions and have a difficult time insulating themselves from absorbing the emotions of the people around them. It’s important to understand the traits of empaths, especially if you are in a relationship with one so that you can better support your partner.
Here are some signs that you might be in a relationship with an empath:
They take on the emotion of others
The signature characteristic of an empath is someone that is so empathetic that they take on the emotions of others. Empaths are so in tune with other people’s emotions and so able to understand other people’s point of views that they can actually feel other people’s emotions as if they were their own. This means that when a friend of a loved one is sad or upset, an empath may mirror these emotions and experience them as well because they are so in tune with what the other person is feeling. This can often be very validating for the person that is experiencing the emotion, but can ultimately be very draining for the empath, especially if they are mirroring difficult emotions.
Tend to avoid large gatherings
Because empaths take on the emotions of those around them, they are often overwhelmed by large gatherings of people. Empaths are very sensitive to both positive and negative emotions of other people, this tendency can be amplified when they are in crowded spaces with a lot of people. This can lead empaths to completely avoid large gatherings all together in order to save themselves the emotional energy that large gatherings can require.
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Tend to be introverted
Though being an empath is not necessarily related to whether or not you are an introvert or an extrovert, empaths are often introverted, and require some alone time to recharge. This is often counterintuitive to people, because empaths are able to connect to others very well, but this connection often takes an emotional toll on empaths and they might need some time by themselves to regroup and re-energize after social interactions. Remember that being introverted doesn’t mean being anti-social, it just means that you are able to recharge your batteries best when you are by yourself, where as extroverts get their energy from being in social situations.
Nature is often very restorative for empaths, because they are able to step away from the large social spaces that they often find very overwhelming. While a lot of people find solace and peace in nature, empaths are especially drawn to spending time in nature by themselves. If your partner takes long walks in the woods to help them bounce back from a stressful social situation, or if they like spending time in the garden just to relax, then this could be a sign that they are an empath.
Have a calming effect on people
Empaths have the unique skill of deeply connecting to other people and understanding their points of view. This often provides a calming effect to the people in their lives who feel understood by the empath. Because empaths are so intuitive, you don’t have to explain yourself, your reasoning or your actions to them in the same way you do with other people. This allows people to let down their guards and feel calm around empaths. Empaths are not only able to listen and understand, but they are also often able to absorb the emotions of other people. Some empaths can literally make you feel less upset just by talking to you, which also contributes to their calming effect on people.
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If it sounds like we have been describing your partner this entire time, then guess what, you’re in a relationship with an empath. Empaths are wonderful and intuitive partners, so count yourself lucky. While there are a lot of redeeming things about dating an empath, it is important to understand their unique sensitivities so that you can be a supportive and loving partner. Here are some tips for making relationships work with an empath:
Give them alone time
Like we said before, large groups of people can be very overwhelming for empaths, and they tend to recharge best when they have time to themselves. In order to be a supportive partner to an empath, it’s important to give them the time and space that they need to be alone. Make it okay for your partner to disappear into the woods, spend time out in nature, or curl up with a book by themselves. Supporting your partner in this way will allow them to recharge, which will not only help their mental health, but it will also help them put more energy in your relationship.
Empaths have a strong sense of intuition (more on that later), and are able to read people very well, which means that they have a low tolerance for bs. Empaths are often able to sense when people are being dishonest, which can cause them to become weary of certain people. If you are in a relationship with an empath (or really a relationship with anyone), it’s super important to be honest! Honestly should be the baseline of any relationship, but especially a relationship with an empath who will likely know that you are lying as soon as the words come out of your mouth.
Empaths not only take on and feel the emotions of other people, they also become deeply invested in trying to support those around them or fix all of their problems. This can cause them to overlook their own needs while trying to be in service to others. And while this might sound like a noble task it often drains empaths of all their emotional energy which can prevent them from taking care of themselves. If you are in a relationship with an empath, and they are overextending themselves emotionally, it’s important that you are supportive of them and their needs. Make sure that they are taking care of themselves, ask them if they need time and space to regroup, offer to take things off of their plate and most importantly ask them how you can be supportive. Empaths tend to also be in tune with their own emotions and will probably be able to tell you how to support them in the best way.
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Listen to them/intuition
Empaths have an excellent sense of intuition. If your empath partner ever shares something with you, based on their intuition, it’s important to really listen to them. Being truly heard by your partner is super validating, and it will show your partner that you support them and trust their intuition. Even if your partner is sharing something with you that is not based on intuition, it’s still important to hear them out. Listening is an important skill to cultivate in any relationship, but it is especially important when you are in a relationship with an empath because they are very sensitive.
Let them feel their emotions
As painful as it can sometimes be to watch an empath take on the emotions of other people (especially when these emotions are negative and emotionally taxing for them), it’s important that you let your partner feel their emotions. Whether their emotions originate from themselves or they are adopted from other people they are still valid and deserve to be felt. Asking an empath partner to get over something or more on before they are ready is insensitive and will cause them to feel uneasy in the relationship. Just like it’s important to ride out good emotions, it’s important to ride out bad emotions. Your partner has a lot of practice dealing with being a highly emotional person and will most likely have a strategy for how to deal. As their partner, let them process their emotions how they see fit.
Don’t force them to socialize
If you are in a relationship with an empath, it’s important to recognize that you likely have different comfort levels with socializing. It’s important not to force an empath to socialize, especially when considering how much they need their down time to regroup. If you are a social person, get out and socialize. Doing things separately from your partner is a great way to maintain a healthy relationship, especially if you have different tolerances for things, different interests, and different needs in terms of socialization.
Make them laugh
Empaths tend to get very into their heads, and are often brought down by the emotional burdens of others. As their partner, it’s important to lighten their mood whenever possible. Whether it’s telling a joke or being silly, making them laugh will help them lighten up and stop worrying about other people from time to time. Remember that empaths absorb positive emotions as well as negative emotions, so lightening up the mood and being silly around them will rub off on them in a positive way.
Be a good listener
Empaths tend to be excellent listeners, and they are used to playing the role of the listener in a lot of their conversations with people. One of the reasons you may be drawn to your empath partner is the fact that they are such a good listener and can help you process your emotions. If they are able to do this for you, it is important for you to do it for them as well. Even if it may feel more natural for them to play the listening role in a conversation, encourage them to speak their mind, and make sure that you actively listen to them.
Just because someone is deeply in tune with other people’s emotions does not mean that they know what’s going on in your head all of the time. You should not expect your partner to be able to read your mind even if they are an empath. It’s important that you communicate your emotions, wants and needs in the relationship EXPLICITLY so that your partner can support you. Expecting that your partner just knows what is on your mind because they are intuitive and emotive puts an undue burden on your partner. Instead of burdening them with more emotional labor, work on expressing yourself to them clearly. This is an important skill to have in general, and it is one that will be deeply appreciated by your partner.
Let them be themselves
It can be difficult to be the partner of an empath, especially when you see how much of a toll their extreme empathy can take on their own mental health. Even though it might be tempting to try and assuage them of their empathetic ways (for their own good), it’s important to let them be themselves. Their empathy is core to their personality, and though there are positives and negatives, it is something that you should learn to embrace so that you can support them as a partner. It’s so important to let your partner be themselves around you anytime that you are in a relationship, this is no different if you are in a relationship with an empath.
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