After all these years, I’ve probably met “The One,” and I really don’t want to blow it. We’re living together now, which is a gigantic leap for me (not for him). I haven’t lived with anyone since the 90s!
And empaths are not the easiest people to live with. We have Princess and the Pea-like sensibilities that could drive other people crazy, though our needs feel natural to us. But, by some miracle, my sensitivities don’t drive him crazy and he wants to understand and honor them.
Day by day, we’re loving each other. We make progress and we make mistakes. But we keep getting closer as we find our way in love.
“If you can’t be happy and content by yourself then you shouldn’t be in a relationship.” – Evan Sutter
These are 9 Lessons I’ve learned so far about being an empath in an intimate relationship:
1. I need to carve out alone time every day to feel sane and happy.
2. I need to sleep alone, frequently, so I can have the uninterrupted space to rest and dream.
3. I need to do my work, which includes writing my books and seeing patients in my psychotherapy practice—both bring me great joy.
4. I need to be honest with my partner about my feelings and anxieties when I am overwhelmed by my emotions.
5. I need to hear his needs and make compromises that we both can live with.
6. I need to grow beyond my comfort level and try to tolerate my anxiety about living with someone without bolting.
7. I need to feel his commitment and devotion to me and know he won’t leave me as I find my way with him.
8. I need to play, be in nature and interpret my dreams every night.
9. When I’m anxious or overloaded or feel I just can’t do this, I need to stay in the moment. I need to breathe, regroup, sleep, talk to a friend, take alone time, meditate, and find my center again.
As you can see, my experiment with intimacy is a work in progress.
I’ve always yearned for this kind of soul-stretching, but it has always felt “too hard” to change my habits, kind of like turning the Titanic. It’s taken most of my life to feel ready. I see intimate relationships as a spiritual path—but they aren’t for everyone. I can understand the advantages of a monastic path, the path of being single, and any path that involves more of a solitary theme.
In contrast, intimate relationships are about bonding, companionship, passion, and having someone who calls you outside to watch the beauty of the moon, to travel with, to share your feelings with, to ride the currents of each day with, for however long your destiny is together.
If you are an empath, or if you’re in love with one, I hope my experiment with being an empath in an intimate relationship helps you. For me, it’s uncharted terrain, but it is a magnificent and worthy journey of discovery that keeps unfolding each day.
(Adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD, which is a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.)
Here’s an interesting video that you may find helpful:
“Create boundaries. Honor your limits. Say no. Take a break. Let go. Stay grounded. Nurture your body. Love your vulnerability. And if all else fails, breathe deeply.”
– Aletheia Luna
Empathy can be a unique and powerful tool that enables you to understand and feel connected to others. As this trait can make feel drained and exhausted, it is crucial that you learn to balance your life to help others and yourself. You need to learn how to use empathy to empower yourself and take care of others. Spend more time with yourself, treat yourself, have some fun. Instead of worrying about being nice, focus on being honest with yourself.