Empaths in Relationships – 5 Hidden Struggles

by Caroline van Kimmenade

So on empaths and relationships… Gosh, this should probably be a list of 200 struggles, not just 5. But writing a whole book would take too long, so I’ll just share 5 points.

These are 5 that I get a lot of “oh my gosh I had no idea!” reactions to from clients, so I’m guessing they’re probably new to you.

Since being an empath is such an “out there” thing, even connecting the dots on all the things that it affects is quite the journey.

If you absorb emotional stress from others, or feel their feelings so strongly that it’s a constant distraction, then this will impact relationships in a lot of complex ways. I’ll focus on romantic relationships here, but these points also apply to friendships and family members.



1. You are perpetually in fix it mode

Your partner comes home unhappy but won’t talk about it. As you try to figure out what is going on, they get more agitated or shut down, and you can’t figure out what to do to make it better. You can feel their stuff and you just want it sorted so you can get back to feeling good together. Why won’t they deal with their feelings?

Here’s the thing: you may not realise or mean to, but you’re meddling. Why? It’s not just about making them feel better, it’s also about making you feel better. Since you can’t stop feeling what they’re feeling, you’re trying to do whatever it takes to stop their agitation, fear, anger.. whatever they’re dealing with. So you get entangled and the whole thing gets messier and messier.

Since you don’t know how to manage (and let go of) what you pick up from them on an energy level, you end up trying to manage them. Your partner claims it’s a molehill at best, but it feels like a mountain to you. And since you can’t move a mountain, you’re determined to climb it and fix it so it will finally leave.

This trying to help on your part can lead to your partner feeling claustrophobic or controlled like they’re not allowed to have their own space to process things. On the other hand, they can also end up expecting you to solve all their issues. Both scenarios are painful and exhausting.

Empaths in relationships are over-worked and their partners can feel claustrophic and controlled, or get super lazy! On the extreme end of things, the empath can even be “managing” a partner’s mental illness by taking on the majority of the out-of-control emotions that are flying around. 



2. You can’t sleep when your partner had a bad day

It’s not because they vented to you about it. It’s because as you’re trying to drift off to sleep, all you feel is their overwhelming stress. It’s distracting and keeps you up at night.

Even if you try to switch your focus, you probably can’t because your energy field is in “fix it” mode. So while your partner is drifting off (peacefully or fretfully) you are like the scout keeping watch at the campfire, even if your partner wouldn’t want you to.

You’re counting sheep, but the sheep keep pausing, looking over the fence and checking on your partner.

This can mess with the best of relationships because even the best of people will have their bad, stressful days (I mean, who doesn’t?). And for you – no matter how loving you are – a lack of sleep will mess with you. Enough bad days and you’ll start getting anxious, irritable, exhausted or lash out unintentionally.

Empaths in relationships often sleep badly. You end up tired and cranky and this makes things worse for both of you.



3. When your partner gets all excited about something, you get all excited too

So much so that you end up doing what they want, not realising in the moment that perhaps it’s not what you want at all.

Going along for the emotional ride can seem fun, until you discover you keep ending up at the wrong destination this way.

Sometimes you realise this later, and you may even be able to bow out. But often, you just get swept up in their enthusiasm and don’t understand why it wasn’t as much fun, or didn’t feel as great as you thought it would.

Maybe this happens with restaurants to eat at, things to order off the menu. Maybe it’s about how to spend your evenings or where to go on holiday. It can also happen in trying to find a good place to live, purchasing big things for your home, or deciding on how to raise the kids.

Being a happy and effective partner requires being able to separate yourself from other people’s wants, desires and inspirations. If you can’t, then you can end up saying yes to a lot of things you actually want to say no to, and not doing the things you actually believe matter most.

In the end, a healthy relationship works best when you know what makes you happy, and can communicate this to your partner. But if you get caught up in other people’s feelings all the time, then you end up not knowing what you really want. You thought you wanted something, but then it turns out to be disappointing.

You end up deciding based on the strongest feeling, which may not be your own feeling at all.

This can lead to frustration on your end, and that of your partner. How on earth can they please you when they have no way of knowing what makes you happy? How can they be a good partner to you when they don’t know what you really need?

Empaths in relationships can end up completely confused about what they want. This can be frustrating for them and for their partner! (Unless their partner is a narcissist who just wants to get their way all the time. Then it works “fine”)



4. As an untrained empath, it’s hard to relax unless you’re away from people

It can be hard to relax unless you’re far away from people, even those people you care about (a lot). So you might find that things were fine as long as hubby had a job outside of the home, but now that he is working from home instead (by choice, due to temporary circumstances or because of retirement) the balance of your marriage is in shambles. (For my empath clients of a certain age – this is the MAIN relationship stressor!)

You end up arguing and you simply don’t know what to do. All you can focus on is how to get this guy out of the house – which obviously is not a good place for your mind to be at in terms of relationship happiness.

You’re not sure why this is, but you just feel that you need space – lots and lots of space – to be o.k. You don’t know how to get this space unless you’re by yourself.


The good news for empaths in relationships: while you’ll always need some space to yourself, when you learn how to stop sponging, you can be around people and experience having and being in your own space at the same time.



5. Empaths in relationships merge with people…

…and it’s beautiful. You feel so deeply connected. Until… one or both of you feels claustrophobic, stuck and like you forgot who you are.

It’s like you have to choose between being in a relationship – and being literally all in – or not having a relationship at all.

Being an empath in a relationship can end up feeling like you are the relationship, and your own self just disappeared. (It doesn’t have to be this way though!)


Do you recognize any of these empath issues?

If so, it’s not your “fault”. It’s just because empaths have a lot of deep subconscious conditioning that does this kind of stuff, even when you’re trying really hard not to do it.

If you’re struggling in an existing relationship, these 5 points can give you some more insight into what might be going on under the hood of the relationship.

Chances are, it’s not just about the person you’re with, it’s about deeper empath patterns, way’s you’ve learned to interact automatically.

And if you’ve been avoiding intimate relationships like the plague and recognise a lot of the points above, then chances are you’ve been avoiding romance for good reason: too much energy overwhelm!


How to stop relationship overwhelm and enmeshment as an empath

Please don’t take the 5 points above to heart as “this is what life MUST be like as an empath”. They are what happens to a lot to untrained empaths. That’s not the same as being a trained empath. Empath + Training is a whole different experience!

You have a choice as to what being an empath will be like for the rest of your life.

I have spent the last 10+ years researching the empath ability, making adjustments so that I no longer absorb other people’s feelings, and teaching my clients to do the same.

I’d be happy to teach you how in my From Suffering Sponge to Sensitive Savant Empath Training Programme.



Whatever you do, please don’t interprete being an empath as a fixed “this is how I am” that everyone has to take into account!

(see the video below for an explanation of what I mean)


How do you know you’re an empath?

Figuring out if you’re actually an empath, or affected by other people’s emotions in other ways, can be a little tricky!

Before I accept anyone into my From Suffering Sponge to Sensitive Savant Programme I always make sure they actually are an empath. That’s because there are different mechanisms by which you can be very sensitive to energy from other people (being an empath is just one of the possibilities)

If you suspect you are an empath and want the energy overwhelm to stop, you can fill out the programme sign up form and we’ll take it from there.

If you prefer doing a little prep work on your own though, I also have an audio course (below) that will guide you through what to pay attention to (and why) to figure out if you are an empath. Doing this will also give you more insight into what, when and why social interactions are overwhelming for you.

I know many people on the internet like to yell “you must be an empath” and then throw a bunch of techniques at you but that’s not how I work. Before you can address something, it’s important to get super clear on what exactly is happening. Otherwise you don’t get the right solution for the actual problem and end up struggling unnecessarily.



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