As an empath I know he deserves better, but why don’t I think I do?
I didn’t date him because he deserved better. He does. Everybody does. But when I walk away because I feel flaky and hard to get to know, I realise what I’m telling myself is I don’t deserve love. Deep in my soul a part of myself really does believe polyamorous relationship happiness isn’t for me. It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde inner battle. Most of the time I win but it’s a constant struggle to hold onto knowing I matter too.
“Nobody decent is interested in me” I wail forgetting the trail of perfectly lovely people who don’t really understand what they did wrong.
The reality is whilst there are a whole bunch of F*ckbois, F*ckedbois, and Relationship Wankerists chasing me, I’m drawn to people who are a little cold and withdrawn because they make me feel safe. The foundations of my self-identity were built on being slightly neglected and that dynamic makes me feel safer than being with someone warm and caring who’s trying to get to know me.
Except the part of my brain which is fighting to drop these no longer useful coping mechanisms knows how unhelpful this is. I find myself in a spiral of being drawn to the people I feel safe but worthless with and then hurting because it reinforces the opinion I have of myself that I don’t deserve any better.
I find it hard to see who is and isn’t genuine because one part of my subconscious is trying to be drawn in by the fuckbois whilst the other is looking out for red flags.
When faced with someone lovely I find myself falling into patterns of insecurity and self-criticism.
I think “What does he want with me? He could have anyone” (and I’m using ‘he’ for ease but it’s totally gender neutral, in fact my “they don’t deserve to be treated badly by me” fears are normally intensified with women or non binaries).
Being an empath gives me so much in terms of ability to read people and situations, and to know instinctively when someone needs to talk. It’s a personality trait I would never ever want to lose but there are times when it makes things harder for me.
Empathic people both see and take on other people’s emotions. Arguments take on a whole other level because I feel both your pain and mine.
As an empath when I’m with people who think of me as disposable, I see myself as such. The value you see in me is soaked into my self-worth. Most people don’t mean to hurt others but a “you’ll do for now” relationship eats away at my core confidence because I absorb those not good enough vibes.
When I’m with someone who genuinely sees my worth it doesn’t match onto my inner sense of self so I back away and try to figure out what I’m experiencing. That person feels hurt and confused by my withdrawal and my empath energy absorbs this instead of the attraction and respect they feel towards me.
My own emotions churn out guilt and self-loathing which makes me back away more and intensifies the confusion the person I’m getting to know feels. As a bipolar person I also experience intense emotional pain as physical pain. There comes a point when I can no longer dial out the other person’s emotion and along with the hatred I feel towards myself at times it gets too much and I end up withdrawing completely.
What this means is I tend to withdraw from loving people with a lot of ability to give because I know I’ll hurt them.
Sometimes I won’t even get to the withdrawal stage because I’ll see someone’s shine and know deep in my heart there are better people out there for them; people who aren’t broken and won’t pass on their pain.
And in doing so I leave myself with narcissists and people who aren’t looking to form any emotional attachments.
Why am I sharing such an intimate part of my recovery process? Partly because I’m bipolar. Oversharing is what we do.
But also, because I’m an empath I have a strong desire to make the world a better place. I want to neutralise everyone’s sadness. I want to share my journey with other people in the hope it helps them either to understand how to date an empath or to help break their own patterns.
How am I fixing this?
One day at a time. The first step for me was resisting the cold people who aren’t available emotionally. That’s mostly wound up with me being alone. That’s ok.
The next step is relearning how to disconnect from another person’s emotions without disconnecting from them. It’s something I’ve had to learn in jobs (coaching and mentoring vulnerable people is impossible when you feel their pain along with them) and in friendships (crying when your friend is sad whilst being rapport building is seldom useful).
Romantic and sexual connections are hard for me to shield from. Both involve an exchange of energies from an early stage in the attachment process.
For me being with someone means I have their energy presence in my psyche. I know when they’re thinking of me and I hold a little of them within me. The important thing now is learning to be multicoloured rather than turning all those glorious shades into a murky brown and losing my own shimmer.
I can sense your sadness without having to feel it, it just takes a little effort.