10 real problems female empaths face in relationships (and how to fix them)

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Female empaths are highly sensitive individuals who tend to pick up on other people’s feelings.

This can make them more vulnerable to certain things within relationships.

They may find themselves being emotionally drained by their partners, or struggle with their partner’s feelings.

When it comes to female empaths and relationships, here is what you need to beware of…

10 real problems female empaths face in relationships (and how to fix them)

1) Confusing understanding bad behavior with accepting it

This first problem is one that I unwittingly have struggled with for many years.

As a female empath, I’d say that empathy has always come fairly naturally to me.

It goes beyond just sympathizing with others. I’ve often found that the empathy I feel for others has meant I understand where they are coming from.

You usually intuitively see beyond surface actions and words.

An ability to tune into others’ emotions helps you to look deeper, into the core of why people do the things they do.

Sounds good so far. But there is a big catch.

Because compassion and empathy are powerful traits. But they can become weaknesses when we allow lines to become blurred.

On some occasions, you might find that your understanding of others leads you to accept things that you should not.

Your understanding towards them might help to diffuse the anger or sadness that you feel. But it can also tempt you to give second (third, or even fourth) chances that aren’t ultimately a good idea.

Solutions:

We need to remember that we can still understand why someone has done something, without allowing it to continue.

When we have been wronged, we can even show kindness and let go of any bitterness or frustration we may hold towards someone for their mistakes.

But that doesn’t mean we need to accept that behavior.

At some point, regardless of how understanding you are, you need to protect yourself from inappropriate behavior.

And that means becoming clear in your own mind the difference between understanding and accepting.

Actively question yourself when you suspect you could be muddying the two.

2) Absorbing someone else’s pain

Another common trapping for the female empath in a relationship is taking on their partner’s pain.

You can still recognize and sympathize with others’ pain, but that does not mean you should absorb it.

This can be a big ask for such emotional sponges.

Empaths can easily find themselves crying over a sentimental advert that comes on the TV, an emotional song that is played on the radio, or a sad news story that you read online.

If these more distanced forms of sadness and pain prompt an outpouring from you, it’s understandable that your loved ones’ pain creates an even bigger reaction.

But if you’re feeling this way because you’re absorbing someone else’s pain, then you need to realize it isn’t actually helping them or you.

Soaking up how someone else feels often happens without even realizing it for an empath.

You can easily go to meet up with someone and feel in a great mood, only to leave energetically drained or deflated — simply because how they were feeling infiltrated how you feel.

By absorbing your partner’s pain, you are unwittingly attaching yourself to it. And in the process, unnecessarily piling on suffering you simply don’t need to feel.

Solutions:

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you should be more robotic in your relationships. Or pretend that you can (or even should) stop caring so much.

Being an empath has so many beautiful strengths. But these exist on a spectrum.

Being more mindful can help you to keep the more burdensome aspects of being an empath in check.

Know your triggers and come up with effective ways that can help you to resist the urge to walk away carrying someone else’s weight on your shoulders.

That might include:

  • Noticing when you are taking on your other half’s feelings. Awareness is the start of changing patterns of behavior that harm us.
  • Reminding yourself that you don’t have to take on their feelings, with an affirmation such as “This is not my emotion to absorb”.
  • Finding ways to shift and release your own pent-up energy so it doesn’t get stuck inside you. Things like exercise, punching a pillow, journalling, or breathwork.

3) Overthinking and overanalyzing

I saw a meme once that said:

“Hang on, let me overthink this.”

As funny as it was, I also felt very seen (and pretty called out).

Empaths tend to be very emotionally intelligent. But that can create a habit of overthinking and overanalyzing in relationships. Which in turn, can lead to overreacting.

I really think that at times all of our blessings can become a curse.

And the problem is that when you are gifted with extreme emotional sensitivity, your antenna can become overly alert.

This might cause pressure on your relationships if you fall into overthinking and overanalyzing.

Solutions:

I think certain spiritual teachings can signpost us towards ways to deal with incessant thinking that often has a tendency to work against, rather than for us.

Thoughts aren’t easy to stop (understatement of the year). And so it becomes incredibly unhelpful to advise anyone to stop overthinking.

But what we can do is question the content of these thoughts.

We can choose not to over-identify with the thoughts we have before they lead us down a destructive path of jumping the gun and overreacting.

As Hackspirit founder and author, Lachlan Brown, puts it in his book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism That Turned My Life Around:

“It might be only a split microsecond in which we decide which to identify with, but it most certainly is a choice, no matter how ingrained it has become. That’s where our power is: in choosing which thoughts to identify and having a reason to do so.”

As a self-confessed overthinker, I’ve found that certain practical tools like meditation and journalling can help to keep a racing mind under control.

So I think it’s a good idea to discover tools that can help you to remain in the present moment (without drifting off to the future or past) to calm excessive thinking.

4) Putting their partner’s needs before their own

People pleasing can become deeply ingrained for some female empaths.

Whether they mean to or not, they feel compelled to try to please their partner. And that can mean sacrificing too much.

For example, they may put their partner’s needs above their own. They may even sacrifice their own health and well-being because they want to make sure their partner feels cared for.

They put their own happiness at the bottom of a very long list of priorities.

Not only can this very quickly leave your cup empty as you try too hard to fill others. But it can ultimately lead to an unbalanced and uneven relationship where you are not equally showing up for one another’s needs.

There’s a good chance you are trying to people please in relationships if you tend to:

  • Avoid conflict at all cost
  • Are agreeable as a way to keep the peace
  • Struggle to say no
  • Start to feel resentful or are passive aggressive as an outlet for unspoken issues

Solutions:

This might involve some deeper work and taking a look at your beliefs and how you handle uncomfortable feelings.

Perhaps you think that it’s wrong to put yourself first in a relationship. Ask yourself, why?

Can you agree that starting from a place of self-care and self-compassion is essential in any successful relationship?

Try to practice asserting yourself in situations when you feel your needs are getting lost or overlooked. It could be as simple as learning to say no to things you don’t want to do.

5) Boundaries being pushed

The sensitivity and kindness empaths often extend to others can mean that setting boundaries feel like their kryptonite.

Marriage and family therapist, Joy Malek, who specializes in working with highly sensitive people says this can be for several reasons:

“You don’t know your needs in the first place—and only realize that a boundary was necessary after the fact. You fear that the validation you receive for being so caring and nurturing will disappear, and when you say no, others will no longer see your value. And many of the suggestions on boundary setting stress assertiveness, which to you might actually feel aggressive.”

So instead, rather than setting and enforcing clear boundaries female empaths might find their boundaries are unspoken or slowly eroded.

Solutions:

It’s much easier for our boundaries to be pushed when we’re not really clear of them in the first place.

A lot of people’s boundaries are intuitive. They’re based on what feels good and what doesn’t.

But if you think you might have an issue with boundaries, it’s time to get crystal clear.

Set some time aside to do some boundary-setting exercises.

6) Trying to fix their partner

When we sense so deeply someone else’s pain or distress, it’s natural to want to take that away.

Particularly when you feel like you have tools that they don’t.

And that can lead to wanting to swoop in and save the day. But far from heroic, this can be destructive for both your partner and your relationship.

I know that I constantly have to try and reign myself in from throwing out unsolicited advice.

In life, we are only responsible for ourselves. You can support, but you cannot do the hard work for someone.

It is not your place to manage, control or change someone.

Even though it might come from a place of love, showing trust and respect for your partner in relationships means that you allow them to govern their own life.

Because that’s how we all grow.

Think of it this way, you are depriving them of the opportunity to learn from mistakes and evolve by trying to take responsibility for them and fix them somehow.

Solutions:

  • Acknowledge and respect the difference between you and your partner, and how you might deal with things.
  • Ask whether your partner wants your advice and opinion, or just for you to listen to them.
  • Practice active listening without jumping in to offer solutions.

7) Feeling relationship ups and downs more intensely

I think female empaths can occasionally unfairly be seen as melodramatic. Not everyone understands the capacity empaths can have to feel the intensity of certain emotions.

Things that may just wash over someone else, a female empath can feel all the way to her core.

But when you feel a wide rainbow spectrum of emotions, you can quickly get swept away. Emotions that naturally occur in a relationship can begin to feel like a total rollercoaster.

It’s almost like you get too involved in the highs and lows. And that can leave you feeling very drained. Which can quickly leave you feeling like your emotional battery is constantly on empty.

Solutions:

Emotions are usually felt more intensely when we place ourselves at the center of them.

So it can be very helpful to try to step back and witness things that happen, rather than fully immersing yourself in them.

Witnessing isn’t about being cold or closed off.

It’s just about consciously trying to stay in a more emotionally neutral place of awareness where our energy can feel more stable.

In this sense, you choose to observe rather than feel what is going on.

8) Having high emotional standards

Of course, standards are a good thing.

But when you are incredibly emotionally high functioning, you can end up expecting others to have the range of emotional depth that you do.

Some observations may be effortless to you. But it isn’t for everyone.

You may have more tools for understanding yourself and others. And it can be very frustrating when you feel like your partner doesn’t.

You might end up getting irritated easily, and wondering “why don’t they get it?!”.

Or feel like (what you view as) their failings are impacting on your own feelings and wellbeing. Which might not always seem fair.

Solutions:

Try to understand why people behave differently.

Maybe there is something going on in their lives that makes them act in ways that aren’t consistent with your expectations.

Or maybe they are acting out because they are struggling with something inside themselves.

If you find yourself frustrated by someone who seems to lack empathy, try to remind yourself that we’re all wired differently.

Whilst high emotional standards are ok, you may need to accept that high emotional expectations may not always be met in all of your relationships.

9) Struggling with feedback and internalizing criticism

As they are (at times) uber-sensitive, it can be really challenging for female empaths to feel like they are being criticized.

It might be felt as rejection. Or there may be a tendency to take things very personally.

Even the smallest comment or throw-away remark can leave a female empath in a total tailspin.

It can be hurtful to them when they hear from a partner that they’re doing something “wrong”.

Empaths can be their own worst critics, and so any feedback from others is quickly magnified tenfold.

You may blow things out of proportion and start to internalize what you hear to an extent that it knocks your self-esteem and confidence.

Solutions:

According to Psychology Today, criticism doesn’t need to create issues in your relationship:

“It is what couples do with criticism that determines whether it will build closeness in the relationship or create distance. When couples learn how to relate to criticism differently and to change their conversation around it, criticism becomes an opportunity for a deeper connection.”

They suggest you can do this by:

1) Taking time to consider the feedback you get from a partner instead of instantly reacting

2) Reflect if there are truths in what your partner says

3) Rather than get defensive, try to make room for vulnerability

10) Becoming overwhelmed and shutting down

Emotions are tricky to navigate at the best of times. So for a female empath who is constantly exposed to feelings everywhere she turns, it can all become too much.

At some point, we can end up turning to coping mechanisms just to help us deal with the overwhelm.

And the reality is that an overload of emotions can lead to breaking points, especially at times of conflict.

You might find that you run from the intensity of what you are feeling. And you might need a lot more space in order to process your emotions.

Solutions:

It’s ok to avoid intimacy overload when you feel yourself getting close to your limit.

Take breaks, and space when you know you need it. But try to communicate these needs in relationships so that your partner understands and doesn’t take it personally.

Feeling drained is common for female empaths. So know that it’s ok to want alone time in order to reset.

Creating enough space for yourself can be a far better preventative measure than reaching a stage where you end up pushing someone away as a last resort.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get $50 off your first session (exclusive offer for Hack Spirit readers).

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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