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Q: I’ve always been attached to people who seem like they need help.
Whenever I get into relationships, I always fall for people who have a complicated past . However, I am an empath and I like to help solve their issues. I like it when they open up to me.
There’s this boy who was different from the others but he didn’t want a relationship. However, I think that at one point, we liked each mutually other but he didn’t want to admit it. The sad bit is, he said he doesn’t like the nice, open person he was with me and he’d rather be alone and worry only about himself. He’d rather go back to trusting only himself.
I’m stuck because I still have feelings for him. What do you suggest I do?
A: Ah, dear empath. You are not alone in your struggle. Those of us who feel other’s emotions tend to be very attractive; who doesn’t like to be understood implicitly? Empaths themselves certainly love to feel helpful. We wrap our partners in an embrace of camaraderie and supportive care.
There’s only one problem: other people’s pain is not ours.
It’s not our business to “solve their issues” or try to alleviate their suffering. Because we are so tender of heart, this realization may seem counterintuitive. If we’re so good at helping, why the heck can’t we? Aren’t we supposed to live our truth?
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” When we, as empaths, take on the troubles of our partners, in effect what we are doing is disabling our partner from stepping into his own power. Empathizing is one thing, fixing is another. We may lead our partner to all the right answers, but once he sees them, he may not take us up on them.
This seems to be the case with the young man you ask about. There are many reasons he may not be ready for a relationship—you might very well be able to intuit the reason, but this is not the point. He needs to come to the answer himself. Instinctively he knows this. (That may be why he stood out to you as “different from the others;” he’s likely more evolved emotionally.)
The more you make yourself available, the farther away he’ll go. Why? Because his issues need to be solved by one one person; himself. So, he doesn’t like that you brought out the “nice” aspect of his character. He wants to wallow in his solitude. Fine. That’s something he needs to work on. Alone.
The best thing you can do for him—or any other potential partner—is to step back and give him space to find himself. If he wants to talk, bounce ideas around, share his feelings, that’s wonderful. Just don’t try to heal him. That’s his job. As empaths, we shine when we feel with people, not for them.
Meanwhile, take some time to develop some self-love.
On an airplane, we’re told if the cabin pressure drops, to put our air mask on before we assist a child. Why? Because we are of no use to anyone when we can’t breathe. Developing a strong sense of self will help you to experience compassion for others without being suffocated by their pain. You will be better able to be an equal partner in a relationship rather than a savior. (This kind of imbalance can’t last in a relationship, anyway.)
Be there for those you love. But don’t forget to be there for yourself first.