Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.
Empaths often have special challenges in intimate relationships because of their intense sensitivities. Intimacy stretches our hearts so that we can become more loving, open people who will honestly express our needs. To flourish in intimate relationships, we must learn to authentically communicate and set clear boundaries for us to feel at ease and not get overloaded.
The right love relationship empowers empaths. Being valued and adored makes us more grounded. When empaths have an emotionally available partner who honors their sensitivities, they feel secure and supported.us.
Empaths have issues to resolve in relationships no matter how good the match. If you’re embarking on or have been in a long-term relationship, here are some points to discuss with your partner about how to love an empath. The following are common challenges and adjustments necessary to create successful relationships.
10 Strategies to Love an Empath from The Empath’s Survival Guide
1. Value regular alone time to decompress and meditate
For an empath, having alone time in a relationship is about self-preservation. It’s not just a luxury. Balance alone time with people time. Regularly take what I call “a golden hour” to decompress. Also get in the habit of having many mini breaks throughout the day. Tell your partner how vital this is for you because empaths need to think and process alone to regroup. This time-out gives you space to internally work through issues about the relationship too, so you have more clarity later with your partner. When you lovingly explain this to your partner, he or she is less likely to feel rejected or take it personally. Make the issue about you and your own sensitivities.
2. Discuss how much time you spend socializing
Non-empaths often like to mingle, but empaths (especially the introverted type) have a much more limited capacity and truly enjoy being alone in situations where others would prefer being social. Try to compromise with a non-empath mate in these circumstances.
3. Negotiate and make adjustments in physical space
Breathing room is essential. Decide what kind of space you need and establish some ground rules with your partner. Ask yourself, what arrangement work best? Is it having a private area to retreat to: separate bathrooms (a must for me!), separate wings or apartments or houses?
4. Focus on a single emotional issue and don’t repeat yourself!
Empaths can have many emotional issues going on simultaneously which can be overwhelming for them and their partners. The best way to communicate to your mate is by sharing one issue at a time without repeating it, unless being asked for clarification. Also, empaths need space to decompress after a conflict. Plan to take a reset time alone to process the issues and center yourself.
5. Don’t take things personally, even when they are personal
This is an important but demanding principle of the spiritual path yet it’s basic to good communication and relationship harmony. Try to be less reactive to comments and more centered so you aren’t triggered as often or as intensely.
6. Use The Sandwich Technique: Make requests not demands
Sandwich something that you’d like your partner to change or an area of conflict between two positive statements. Here’s how it works. First you could say, “I love you so much and appreciate your support!” Then put in your request: “I need your help with something. I would like to meditate for a half hour each night. It would be great if you could give me that private time. It will help me be even more present with you later.” Then hug your partner and thank him or her for taking care of you in this way. Remember to use this technique when you’re raising difficult issues.
7. Observe the “No Yelling Rule”
Empaths become overwhelmed around yelling and loud voices. Our partners need to accept this about us. For the sake of self-preservation, I’m strict about this rule in my house.
8. Don’t be a People Pleaser or try to fix your partner
Empaths become tired when they try to fix others’ problems or keep trying to please them at the expense of their own needs. So practice loving detachment and set boundaries.
9. Modulate the sounds around you
Empaths are usually quiet people. Our loved ones must accept this about us and be sensitive about the kind of sounds they bring into the home. Ask your mate to understand your need to have peace and quiet.
Empaths tend to be on the serious side, but we also love to play. Be playful with your partner and let him or her bring out your inner child.
Good relationships are possible for empaths and can enhance their sense of security, love, and grounding. Marriage or any kind of sacred union needs to be a competition of generosity. Each person is in service to the other, aiming to deepen their devotion, kindness, passion, and love every day. Relationship is a spiritual experience, where you can learn from each other, share your hearts, and take good care of each other. Consideration and tolerance is essential. Empaths will thrive in partnerships where these qualities are a priority and authentic communication is the goal.