Secrets for Sensitive People to
Find Relationships That Work:
Why Emotional Empaths May Stay Lonely or Alone
- By Dr. Judith Orloff
Loneliness gets to some more than others. But why it hangs on isn't always apparent when read by traditional medical eyes. In my practice and workshops I've been struck by how many sensitive, empathic people who I call "emotional empaths" come to me, lonely, wanting a romantic partner, yet remaining single for years. Or else they're in relationships but feel constantly fatigued and overwhelmed. The reason isn't simply that "there aren't enough emotionally available people 'out there,'" nor is their burnout "neurotic." Personally and professionally,.. I've discovered that something more is going on.
Emotional empaths are a species unto themselves. Whereas others may thrive on the togetherness of being a couple, for empaths like me, too much togetherness can be hard to take, may cause us to bolt. Why? We tend to intuit and absorb our partner's energy, and become overloaded, anxious, or exhausted when we don't have time to decompress in our own space. We're super-..responders; our sensory experience of relationship is the equivalent of feeling objects with fifty fingers instead of five.
Energetically sensitive people unknowingly avoid romantic partnership because deep down they're afraid of getting engulfed. Or else, they feel engulfed when coupled, a nerve-..wracking, constrictive way to live. If this isn't understood, empaths can stay perpetually lonely; we want companionship, but, paradoxically, it doesn't feel safe. One empath-patient told me, "It helps explain why at thirty-two I've only had two serious relationships, each lasting less than a year." Once we empaths learn to set boundaries and negotiate our energetic preferences, intimacy becomes possible.
For emotional empaths to be at ease in a relationship, the traditional paradigm for coupling must be redefined. Most of all, this means asserting your personal space needs--the physical and time limits you set with someone so you don't feel they're on top of you. Empaths can't fully experience emotional freedom with another until they do this.
Your space needs can vary with your situation, upbringing, and culture. My ideal distance to keep in public is at least an arm's length. In doctors' waiting rooms I'll pile my purse and folders on the seats beside me to keep others away. With friends it's about half that. With a mate it's variable. Sometimes it's rapture being wrapped in his arms; later I may need to be in a room of my own, shut away. One boyfriend who truly grasped the concept got me a "Keep Out" sign for my study door! For me, this was a sign of true love.
All of us have an invisible energetic border that sets a comfort level. Identifying and communicating yours will prevent you from being bled dry by others. Then intimacy can flourish, even if you've felt suffocated before. Prospective mates or family members may seem like emotional vampires when you don't know how to broach the issue of personal space. You may need to educate others--make clear that this isn't about not loving them--but get the discussion going. Once you can, you're able to build progressive relationships.
If you're an empath or if the ordinary expectations of coupledom don't jibe with you practice the following tips.
DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL SPACE NEEDS
Tips for empaths to feel at ease in a relationship
Tip 1. What to say to a potential mate
As you're getting to know someone, share that you're a sensitive person, that you periodically need quiet time. The right partner will be understanding; the wrong person will put you down for being "overly sensitive," won't respect your need.
Tip 2. Clarify your preferred sleep style
Traditionally, partners sleep in the same bed. However, some empaths never get used to this, no matter how caring a mate. Nothing personal; they just like their own sleep space. Speak up about your preferences. Feeling trapped in bed with someone, not getting a good night's rest, is torture. Energy fields blend during sleep, which can overstimulate empaths. So, discuss options with your mate. Separate beds. Separate rooms. Sleeping together a few nights a week. Because non-empaths may feel lonely sleeping alone, make compromises when possible.
Tip 3. Negotiate your square footage needs
You may be thrilled about your beloved until you live together. Experiment with creative living conditions so your home isn't a prison. Breathing room is mandatory. Ask yourself, "What space arrangements are optimal?" Having an area to retreat to, even if it's a closet? A room divider? Separate bathrooms? Separate houses? I prefer having my own bedroom/office to retreat to. I also can see the beauty of separate wings or adjacent houses if affordable. Here's why: conversations, scents, coughing, movement can feel intrusive. Even if my partner's vibes are sublime, sometimes I'd rather not sense them even if they're only hovering near me. I'm not just being finicky; it's about maintaining well-being if I live with someone.
Tip 4. Travel wisely
Traveling with someone, you may want to have separate space too. Whether my companion is romantic or not, I'll always have adjoining rooms with my own bathroom. If sharing a room is the only option, hanging a sheet as a room divider will help. "Out of sight" may make the heart grow fonder.
Tip 5. Take regular mini-breaks
Empaths require private downtime to regroup. Even a brief escape prevents emotional overload. Retreat for five minutes into the bathroom with the door shut. Take a stroll around the block. Read in a separate room. One patient told her boyfriend, "I need to disappear into a quiet room for ten minutes at a party, even if I'm having fun," a form of self-care that he supports.
In my medical practice, I've seen this creative approach to relationships save marriages and make ongoing intimacies feel safe, even for emotional empaths (of all ages) who've been lonely and haven't had a long-term partner before. Once you're able to articulate your needs, emotional freedom in your relationships is possible.
Based on Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life by Judith Orloff MD.
About the Author:
Judith Orloff MD, the SelfGrowth.com Official Guide to Intuition, is a psychiatrist and intuition expert and author of the new book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books, 2009) Her other bestsellers are Positive Energy, Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and has been featured on The Today Show, CBS Early Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine and USA Today.
ॐ नमः शिवाय rävensärä)
December 11, 2011, 6:23 am
I think I will try that, soemtmes I cant differentiate my emotions from that of others!!!!! Although, I admit on some level I enjoy being a sponge for sorrow...For example, my parents were fighting a lot, so I would try to 'absorb' some of it and disperse it in a harmless way, the lives of the kids would be better.I think my little brother is an empath, and I try to look out for him. Hes young and doesnt need to be troubled by things he may not understand. I would intuit thoughts, and it would spin me out into confusion, too, and I would 'absorb' some of what that person is feeling, and other times it seemed like a huge energy clash.
It is anxiety I cant stand..(someone going through emotional turbulance/waiting to go on a long trip etc) will drive me nuts over a long period!!! But thanks for the spheres of protection, I will try that, It will come in handy to me at the moment, and perhaps for a long time, I've heard of it before....
thought it would be very helpful here :)
Im glad that it was enjoyed, and I apologize about the requests for money.. People can be SO RIDICULOUS with that, when people who are here to 'assist' .... get treated like they have a problem?? This should be for free.
Much Love !!!!
Thanks again for the tip about the sheilding energy spheres, would be GREAT to use right now
Love & Light,always,forever
Very Interesting Blog. I Can
September 22, 2009, 7:23 pm
Very interesting blog. I can definitely relate to the need space thing.
When I moved home to my family's house(1990), I would go to work, come home, fix my meal, and retreat to my room. I would just read or take a walk in my mind. I was not lonely. My brothers jokingly called me "cave woman". Working at LAX was enough to deal with during the day and the chaotic energies of my family home were often too much. They were actually very understanding, a far cry from when I was a child.
Even though my husband and I are now living/traveling in a 32 foot motorhome, he needs to be "doing" something all the time, so I get a fair amount of space to "be".
I have to say that over a year ago I did a process whereby I received permenant spheres of protection. No daily sheilding necessary. Just think about them once a week to maintain their strength. I had an INSTANT sensation of having a warm coat wrapped around me and somebody guarding my back. It was an incredible sense of safety and protection, I had never felt my entire life. I no longer have to sleep with my back to the wall. The most interesting thing about it was I found I was not so sensitive to the energies of others, UNLESS I WANTED to be. That is a wonderful gift. I still pick up on stuff, it is just not so obtrusive. I can always tune in, if I want to.
Thanks, for sharing this. Some of the visuals, like 50 fingers, are great for explaining how this might feel to somebody who is not so sensitive. Love to all here. I wish you all your heart desires.
Love and Peace,
Here Is A Site/forum Where
September 22, 2009, 5:33 pm
Here is a site/forum where you can discuss your interests/challenges with others who are "highly sensitive", INFP, etc. types -- you know, humans that are actually bearable :)) A fine place for exchanging feelings, thoughts, views...
September 22, 2009, 4:17 pm
and it is true as intuits need to have space between although i remember when I read a lot of her work I tried to email her with a simple question and was led to her paying sites so I guess i felt kind of discouraged becuase I am intuitive so highly sensitive and this topic really related to me. I was trying to ask how to release energies that come to me uninvited. This site has helped me a lot with releasing energies but it is still a process.
I also had the question of how intuits and empaths meet and grow in relationships which can be unusual because sometimes we pick up the energy of the person too soon where we have a hard time with the courtship (to use a quaint word) process - we may jump in too soon and give the person messages - also there is the fact that we seem to know what the other person is up to and can place too much weight on their temporary thoughts.
September 22, 2009, 3:51 pm
Thank you for sharing this message ... bringing much into perspective which assists in understanding relationships with family and friends ... a great confirmation!
September 22, 2009, 3:22 pm
Gosh this is so very well received. I have two friends whom I consider a treasure on this earth, and my dear biological family, but I lack the intimacy of a mate, a love partner. its been so many years since I have felt a true kiss and the feeling of loving arms around me. This is happening to many of us on the 8th fold path of Ascension. so it gives me a sense of comfort, to know that I am not alone. Thanks again for posting this wonderful article...
Thank You :) This Information
September 22, 2009, 1:16 pm
Thank you :) This information was a great help to me..I can truly resonate with the "needing space"
Have a beautiful Equinox..
Hugs and love,