You’ve probably heard of the term empath before, and maybe you know that it is used to describe someone who feels so deeply for others that they can absorb other people’s feelings and pain and take them on as their own.
Empaths can undoubtedly be intense people, and being in a relationship with an empath comes with clear benefits, as well as challenges. Learn 15 signs that indicate if you’re in a relationship with an empath or not.
Also, know what to do when in a relationship with an empath to make it work.
Research has shown that people who have a high degree of empathy tend to have higher levels of relationship satisfaction, so being an empath certainly has its benefits.
The empath connection to someone is so strong that the empath may have unique needs within a relationship.
Given that empaths are susceptible to other people’s feelings, they can become overwhelmed in relationships. They take on the feelings of others and absorb them as their own, which means they are likely to have the following needs:
You might become offended when the empath asks for space, but they require alone time to recharge their batteries and deal with their own needs since they are so in tune with others.
They may need scheduled time throughout the day to hang out alone, but it doesn’t mean they are upset with you.
Respect for Their Boundaries
Empaths are susceptible people, but they also hate upsetting others, so they need your help when it comes to boundaries.
If they try to say no or stand up for themselves, it may not come across as very firm, so you must be able to pick up on what is happening when they try to set a boundary.
Empaths aren’t big on small talk, but within their close relationships, they value deep communication.
They don’t want to discuss the weather; instead, when they’re in the mood to talk, they want to have meaningful conversations about their hopes and dreams, and yours as well.
Given their tendency to put others first, empaths need to take time away to care for themselves. Whether it’s taking a walk, going to get a massage, or spending time on their favorite activity, empaths require that you allow them this time.
They find time in nature incredibly rejuvenating, so they may want to spend time outdoors. Sometimes, they may even include you in their outdoor activities.
Empaths can be incredibly emotional and intense, but this isn’t something they can change about themselves. They need you to accept that they will love hard, feel stiff, and sometimes become overwhelmed with these feelings.
You may not understand them at times, and that’s okay, but accepting them for who they are goes a long way.
Do’s and don’ts of loving and understanding an empath
When it comes to being in a relationship with an empath, some do’s, and don’ts can make things easier. Consider the following don’ts, which are things the avoid with the empath and love:
1. Don’t take their need for alone time personally
The empath isn’t upset with you; they must recharge. In the end, your relationship will be better off when the empath has some space to care for themselves.
2. Don’t cage the empath in
Empaths need to have time in nature and time to explore their passions. Trying to get the empath to fit into your mold or spend all of their time with you will make them feel caged in, which never makes for a successful relationship.
3. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings
The empath does take on others’ emotions and feelings quite quickly, so you might be afraid to express yourself, but holding back isn’t the answer.
You’re allowed to express yourself, and the empath will probably pick up on the fact that something is wrong, even if you don’t tell them, because of their strong intuition and ability to absorb other people’s emotions.
Instead of hiding your feelings, share them calmly and honestly, and understand that the empath may need time to process.
4. Please don’t take advantage of them
Empaths always want to please their partners, meaning it’s easy for you to take advantage of them. They aren’t confrontational, so you can also quickly get your way with them.
This isn’t fair, and you may have to put in a little extra effort to make sure you’re honoring their wishes and desires at times, too.
5. Don’t try to fix them
Ultimately, being an empath is a gift, and it’s not a disease that needs to be cured. Don’t try to heal your partner or talk them out of being sensitive or in tune with others’ emotions.
Now that you know what not to do in a relationship with an empath, it’s helpful to know the following do’s of a relationship with an empath:
1. Find things you can do to enjoy yourself when your partner needs time alone
Instead of seeing your partner’s need for space as a bad thing, use this time to pursue your interests. This is healthy in any relationship, and when you’re with an empath, you may find you have extra time to explore your passions.
There may be times that you want to socialize, and your empathic partner does not. You will have to learn to accept these differences and come to a compromise that works for both of you.
3. Be mindful of the fact that confrontation is difficult for them
Non-empaths may be able to deal with a heated argument with their partner and quickly move on. On the other hand, Empaths can be very emotionally damaged by confrontation.
Keep this in mind, and make an effort to express yourself without being harsh, even if there is a disagreement. Instead of resorting to yelling or name-calling, focus on the issue to minimize the damage to the empath.
4. Be honest and consistent
To thrive within a relationship, empaths need to feel safe. This requires loyalty and trust, so you must work toward these things when in a relationship with an empath. Once broken, trust can be hard to repair with an empath.
Empaths feel deeply connected to their passions and interests, just as they love deeply in their relationships. It’s essential to accept that they need to devote time to their passions and feel very intensely about them.
Here is a video that discusses the strange parts of empaths lives that you might not understand:
15 Signs you’re in a relationship with an empath
You know what to do in a relationship with an empath, but is advice for empaths even relevant to you?
Consider the 15 signs below to help you determine whether you’re in a relationship with an empath. If you notice at least a few of these following signs, chances are you’re dating an empath:
1. Your partner is sensitive
Living as an empath means feeling things intensely, so if you’re with an empath, you will notice they are susceptible, not only to their feelings but to the feelings of others.
This isn’t always a negative thing; since they feel so deeply, they will exude joy when you are happy or happy.
2. They thrive in calmness
Since empaths take on others’ emotions, they can become quite overwhelmed when exposed to anger or tense situations.
They can become anxious or depressed in confrontational situations. If your partner seeks out calmness and seems happiest when things are at peace, you’re probably dating an empath.
3. They seem to know what you’re feeling at all times
The empath in love will be able to pick up on your feelings without you even expressing yourself to them.
If it seems that your partner always knows what you’re thinking and feeling, this is one of the clear signs that you’re in a relationship with an empath.
4. Your partner loves nature
Since empaths can become overwhelmed in large social gatherings, they enjoy the tranquility and space that nature provides them.
A person who loves spending time in nature, whether hiking, walking, or just exploring, is likely an empath, especially if they would rather be alone than at a lively party.
5. They’re introverted
Empaths connect well to other people, but that doesn’t mean that they are life-of-the-party extroverts. Often, empaths are introverts because they need time alone to recharge their batteries after absorbing the emotions of everyone around them.
An introverted empath is likely to find joy and energy in solitary activities like painting, reading, or hiking.
6. They never say no
Remember that one of the pieces of advice for loving and understanding an empath is that you should never take advantage of them.
This sign goes with that fact; the empath will let you take advantage of them because they can’t stand to let you down. This can mean they never say no to you, even when it’s clear they’d like to.
7. They become very upset when you’re upset
It’s normal to care for your partner and want to encourage them when they’re down, but the empath feels so deeply for their significant other that they take on their partner’s emotions.
This means that the empath in relationships will become quite upset if their partner feels down.
8. They prefer a night at home to going out
Huge crowds can overwhelm the empath and send them into sensory overload.
So when in a relationship with an empath, you’ll likely notice that your partner wants to spend most weekends at home cuddled up watching a movie rather than going out to see a newly released movie or to dance at the club.
9. You find yourself tiptoeing around their feelings
Empaths are extremely sensitive, and if you’re in a relationship with one, you’ve probably picked up on this fact. You might even find yourself holding in your feelings because you’re so afraid to upset them.
10. You may feel pushed away at times
Remember that empaths in relationships need their personal space, so if you’re not used to this, you may feel as if your partner is pushing you away. Rest assured that they need space to recharge.
11. Your partner seems to fear intimacy
Empaths can become overwhelmed by strong emotions, so intimate relationships can be challenging. They may seem as if they are fearful of getting too close to you because their feelings for you will become so intense and overwhelming.
The togetherness that comes with intimacy can make them feel suffocated if they don’t get alone time.
If you’re in a relationship with an empath, they will probably step in to help you all the time; however, when you try to return the favor, they struggle to accept the help because they feel that they need to be the hero who comes to your side.
They are too invested in helping you accept help from you in return.
13. Your partner always puts you first
Since empaths take on the feelings of others, they cannot help but put their significant others first.
You may even notice that your partner is entirely self-sacrificing, always doing what you want to do, or giving in to your needs, rather than tending to their own.
14. Your partner might let the small things get to them
Empaths are intense people, so minor problems can seem quite significant in empaths and intimate relationships. The empath might seem extremely upset by a minor disagreement simply because they deeply feel things.
15. They have a strong sense of justice
Empaths are very strongly affected by injustices in the world, and you’ll find that they are often standing up for others or fighting against injustices, such as discrimination or inequality.
It is important to support them in these endeavors, as empaths cannot help but feel for other people, even those they don’t know on a personal level.
The importance of empathy in healthy relationships
It’s pretty evident from the signs above that loving and understanding an empath can come with challenges. Still, there is undoubtedly a benefit to being in a relationship with an empathetic partner.
Empaths are lovers, and they are caring, kind, compassionate people. If you treat an empath well and understand their need for time to themselves, they’ll likely stay around, and they’ll shower you with love.
An empath will support your dreams, make sacrifices to make the relationship work, and put you first every day.
Beyond the fact that empaths have many extraordinary qualities, it’s essential to understand that some degree of empathy is essential for a healthy relationship.
Even if your empathy levels aren’t high enough that you absorb the feelings of others, it is important to be at least somewhat empathetic so that you can be compassionate toward your partner and at least understand what they are going through. This allows your partner to feel heard and supported.
Couples therapy experts have stated that empathy is critical for a successful relationship, as it allows people to step outside of themselves and respond to others’ emotions. For example, if your partner has had a bad day at work, empathy allows you to leave your frame of reference and support them.
Empaths are deeply intuitive, compassionate people, so being in a relationship with an empath means that your partner will always understand your feelings, and they will have a strong need to ensure that you are happy and cared for. While these are undoubtedly beneficial traits, living as an empath can also bring challenges to intimate relationships.
Your empathic partner may need a significant amount of alone time to recharge, and they can become overwhelmed with conflict. A relationship with an empath works best when you understand their needs and learn how to manage their intense emotions.
Suppose your empathic partner is struggling to be vulnerable within the relationship. In that case, it’s important to encourage self-care and perhaps recommend that they seek counseling to help them cope with any challenges they encounter within the context of a relationship.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.