Empath in Relationship Introduction


A Guide for the Intuitive Introvert for Enjoying Relationships and a Life’s Work

Elaine La Joie

I am an Empath who has been working as a coach, mentor, and shaman for about ten years.  Most of my clients are also Empaths.  I decided to write this book when I realized that I repeated the same concepts and materials to my clients, and those clients usually used their new knowledge for great improvement in their lives.  Since Empaths tend to love books on self-improvement, writing one of my own seemed like the next right step, especially since not all Empaths have access to their own personal shaman. 

My teachers have included other Empaths, like Sonia Choquette and Julia Cameron, plus shaman teachers like Alberto Villoldo, Linda Fitch, Debra Grace, Greta Holmes, and Marv Harwood.  If you’ve enjoyed Sonia Choquette’s and Julia Cameron’s work, you will most likely find this book useful.  The shaman likes to get to the deep, nitty-gritty, and sometimes painfully messy work and release it.  So, some of the work in this book may not feel inspirational or particularly easy to read.  But, if you are an Empath, you probably aren’t afraid of dealing with the darker emotional states, and in fact you may be relieved to hear how one Empath overcame obstacles particular to Empaths.

Empaths have the ability to feel the emotions and physical sensations of others, especially our loved ones.  In extreme cases, Empaths can develop the same personality traits and physical symptoms of the people to whom they are closest.  This ability in the Empath is usually unconscious and therefore uncontrolled.  While there are great resources describing how to manage the physical and psychic phenomena that come with being Empathic, (see the resources section at the back of the book) what I will focus on is the Empath in Relationship. 

More than anything, Empaths want to have close, loving, bonded, rewarding relationships, and most Empaths want this with a Life Partner.  But for many Empaths, the area of Relationship is either difficult or dissatisfying, precisely because we tend to tune in to what the other person needs and then lose ourselves in the process—in other words, we lose that relationship with ourselves as we relate to others.  As we come into right relationship with ourselves, old ways of being that did not fit our true selves fall away.  Relationships centered around old roles and rules either end or evolve, and new relationships based on our rediscovered selves take their place.

While our goal may be to create wonderful relationships, this journey of healing enough to be ready for such connections can make us wish we had never started the process.  It is my hope that by following the stories of a typical Empaths in creating the lives that they really wanted, this book will serve as a guide for Empaths who want to understand their relationships and their own hidden motivations.  The personal healing work involved can be intense, but it is worth it.  May this book help you on your own personal journey.


One way of describing an Empath is the ability of someone to feel the emotional, mental, and physical symptoms of people around the Empath, especially those that the Empath loves, as if those emotions and sensations originated in the Empath.  The untrained Empath literally cannot tell the difference between her emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations and those of another.  An Empath can easily absorb the emotions of others, and in some cases, she can be overtaken by the physical symptoms of others.  Without skill, the Empath can become very ill.  Some Empaths are so sensitive that they cannot take public transportation and must avoid large groups of people or feel completely overwhelmed by what most people consider normal stimuli.

Empaths who work with me learn how to manage their Empathy so they can be at choice about how much they want to open to others.  They learn how to Observe, not Absorb, as my teacher Sonia Choquette says.  They also learn techniques to shake off excess energy and how to protect themselves during overwhelming situations.

Honoring the Empath’s sensitivity is the first step in healing.  This very sensitivity is the reason that Empaths make natural healers, artists, and intuitives.  Empaths can also make great performers, literally channeling their roles.  It is this ability to role-play and to respond that can get Empaths into trouble in their relationships;  Empaths can confuse a performance or a role with their essential selves.  

In such cases Empaths can use their sensitivity to collude with the group instead of honor their individuality.  The Empath can be easily caught up in drama because she is so psychically in tune with everyone around her.  The ability of the Empath to enmesh herself with others can lead the Empath to waste her life supporting others without her understanding how she became the anchor for their emotional support.


My discussion of the Empath, especially within relationships, hinges on understanding the archetypal nature of the human experience.  Archetypes are forces that are common to all human beings—they are part of the collective consciousness.  The Empath can be described as an archetype.  When we understand ourselves as archetype, we can understand our behavior in a less personalized way.  Knowing the other archetypes with which Empaths tend to interact also helps us understand our relationships and how those predictably will unfold.  In this book I’ll discuss several archetypes that have been described in detail through the Enneagram, although no previous knowledge of the Enneagram is necessary. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the Enneagram, it describes the motivations of nine major Archetypes.  I like using the Enneagram rather than other personality type systems because the Enneagram focuses on belief systems and motivation rather than on behavior.  In shamanic work, as we will see later, we create our world through the lens of our beliefs.  If we can gain insight into our hidden belief system, we can create more effectively lives that we love and enjoy.  The Enneagram, as described by Riso and Hudson, also touches on the levels of mental and emotional health of each of the archetypes, and on what happens to each archetype as we become more aware of our motivations.  The Classic Empath is most closely related to the Four on the Enneagram.

In addition, I’ll also discuss in detail the archetypal nature of the Drama Triangle of Disempowerment, with its archetypes of Victim, Rescuer, and Bully.  Empaths, because we are so responsive, and because we usually have been victimized in childhood, tend to get caught on the Drama Triangle.  I have found in my practice that understanding the Drama Triangle and the Empath as archetype are extremely helpful for my clients in living a life free of the pitfalls of these archetypal forces.


I will use examples from my life and my clients’, including discussion of shamanic energywork as I proceed.  Some shamanic knowledge has similar concepts as psychology, such as the Drama Triangle and the discussion on projection.  However, I am a shaman, so those readers with a psychology background may notice differences in descriptions.  The shaman works at the level of the Soul’s Journey, where Myth and Archetype (the experience of the Collective) reside.  

As my teacher, Alberto Villoldo describes, we can think of reality as composed of four basic levels: the Literal level (physical body, what we could see, feel, and touch), the Symbolic level (emotional and mental mind), the Mythic level (soul’s journey, archetypes, and the Sacred), and the Energetic level (energetic cords, subtle vibrations).

Teaching my clients to move into the Sacred, or the Mythic level can bring lasting change for many Empaths, who tend to create problems for themselves on the Emotional level.  If you are reading this book, you probably are an Empath that hasn’t had much success solving problems at the Symbolic level (mental mind and emotions); you might have become sick at the Literal level (the physical body) with various chronic physical ailments.  Stepping into the Mythic plane and understanding archetypal forces may help ease suffering that in many cases is unnecessary.

When we step into the Mythic realm, we are stepping into an overview of the situation at hand.  From the Mythic level we discover that archetypal forces run more of our literal lives than we realize.  This also means that by understanding the archetypal nature of relationships, we can apply knowledge of the archetypes, especially those on the Drama Triangle, to many situations at the Literal and Symbolic levels of our lives. 

On the Literal level nothing much may look amiss when a friend who is only five years younger than us tells us he thinks of us as he Big Sis.  On the Symbolic level as Empaths we may get a weird vibe but reason with ourselves that we should feel honored to be thought of as Family.  But by looking from the Mythic level we may see that our friend is trapped in the Victim Role as the Improperly Mothered Child and is projecting his old wounds onto us—we feel weird because we are expected to Mother him—we’ve been placed in the Role of Rescuer because his power to feel good about himself has been given over to us, and we may not be interested in playing that role.  At the Energetic level we may see cords from our friend to us that pinch, bind and even drain us of our energy.

At the Mythic level, we can learn that most of Life is not personal (and Empaths tend to take everything personally.)  Knowing that not much is personal can give us freedom to choose to engage or not to engage a relationship or a situation and therefore make it personal to us.  If we understand our Enneagram type, including the blindspots of the typical Empath, we can look at how the archetype is running us at the Symbolic level (our emotions and thoughts) and at the Literal level (physical illness or even weight gain).  Suddenly Life can become less confusing and more about changing habits and behavior rather than feeling stuck and confused.  We can keep the gifts of our Enneagram Archetype and be wary of the deeper blindspots.  Life becomes a practice of self-mastery instead of simply unconsciously living out a few archetypal forces.

In modern Western Society, we have left much of the honoring of the Mythic experience behind.  The Mythic level is not only the place of the archetypes, but it is also the realm of the Soul or the Heart.  When we leave this reality out of our lives, Empaths tend to become disconnected from our hearts and stuck in the Emotional/Mental realm.  If problems arise at the Emotional/Mental realm, then Empaths can become physically ill as well as we try to process this heavy energy through the physical body.  When the Empath learns how to live consciously from the Mythic level, problems at the Emotional plane can be solved at the Mythic plane instead of processed at the Physical plane. 

Since the Mythic plane of consciousness does not have a “mental mind” it can be hard for us Westerners to figure out how it works enough to trust that it does work.  If we don’t know how it works, we might tend to dismiss it as silly.  Instead of trying to figure out the Mythic realm, in this book I’ll go straight to my personal experience and those of my clients to show the changes that can happen when we treat our entire life as Sacred by living from the Mythic level.  When we can see our lives from the universal instead of the personal, the Empath suddenly has more choice and more freedom. 

Once we become comfortable living our lives from the Mythic Realm, we can clean up old wounds and the unhappy beliefs that arose from those wounds.  The shaman addresses problems rooted at both the Energetic and the Mythic planes.  For many of my clients once the root problem is cleared at the Energetic and Mythic, they can move into what they want to create in their lives instead of living out the same relationship pattern or remaining blocked in their creativity. 

I’ll cover different examples of shamanic energywork, including Soul Retrieval, Extractions, and Underworld Work and how once my clients are able to change their hidden belief system, they are able to change their lives.    When the wounds that led to the faulty beliefs are cleared, we are free to embark on a life of creativity and discovery.  We are free to explore the gifts of the Empath: the ability to form deep connections and to enjoy extraordinary creativity.  In turn, the Empath brings gifts to the rest of humanity in the form of healthy relationships, supportive community, and inspiring works of art. 


Much of these ebooks cover how the Empath tends to relate to others within a family system, a partnership, and a best friendship.  Most Empaths want these relationships to be warm, intimate, and bonded.  However, for many Empaths these relationships tend to be painful and confusing.  I will cover the typical wounds from childhood that the Empath tends to endure, along with the typical original family system in which Empaths learned their original beliefs and were thus set up into particular double-binds.  If the Empath isn’t careful, she tends to recreate those relationships in adulthood. 

Empaths usually want a soulmate relationship with a partner, but instead can create a series of broken partnerships after which she ends up isolated.  I’ll go over the most common pitfalls of the most common pairings of Empaths to other Enneagram archetypes.  Empaths make wonderful best friends, but sometimes those relationships disintegrate.  We’ll cover the most common reasons why our friendships do not work out.  And finally, Empaths crave community, but tend to fall into groups in which they become drained by the roles assigned to them.  We’ll look at a family’s  hidden belief system, and how the Empath tends to respond to these subtle cues and expectations of the group.  Most importantly, I’ll show how the Empath can escape from these traps, fix up current relationships or let them go, and create new healthy relationships without fearing the past unhappy outcomes.


The beginning of this book shows us how we create what we don’t want.  I will also cover how we can create what we do want, and how that creation process is happening all the time, even though we may not know it.  I will also cover some of the most confusing patterns and feelings that arise in the creation process as the Empath embarks on her journey of self-discovery and creativity, some of which are particular to Empaths.  Empath’s have the inner push to create, and yet we fear loss, especially loss of happiness. 

Once we understand the creation process and its requirement to enlist Death as an ally, we are able to move forward despite the discomforts of creativity.  We allow ourselves to be available more often to experience creativity’s joys.  When we have a handle on our core beliefs system so that we can manifest the relationships and the creative life that we really want, we are what I call The Fulfilled Empath.  I hope this book will help you on your journey into manifesting that life.

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24 Responses to Empath in Relationship Introduction

  1. Jennifer Normandin says:

    I am in a relationship with an empath. I am trying to understand her and trying to be the supportive person. I do have a lot of issues in my life and past that I am trying to fix (as I was divorced from a narcissist after 20 years) we have children together and my youngest is just like him. She takes on a lot of my children’s pain and my own. I just want to be better for her….What now??? Please help

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m so glad to hear that you want to improve your understanding of the Empath in your life. My books are written for Empaths, but they should give you a good understanding of the Empath perspective. If you would like to talk more, please email me directly and we can set up a week of email support.

      sending love and hugs!

  2. catherine says:

    Wow! This is the best information I have heard yet. Lord knows how long I have been trying to figure all this stuff out in my life and after reading this bit of information, I feel like this might be the manual that God forgot to give me on my journey here to earth. Very interesting in trying this out. It really makes sense.

  3. Elaine says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I’m so glad this introduction was helpful! I hope you enjoy the books, too.


  4. Mari says:

    This is the best info I’ve read on empathls in a while. My abilities has grown a lot over the past 3 years. I’ve learned to block others. Do u talk about or know about emapths rant absorb others abilities? Thisvisvwhat I’m dealing with at the moment.

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Mari,

      My books are mainly about Empaths and Relationships. I don’t talk about psychic gifts at length in these books–there are other books out there that do that.

      If you have questions, feel free to ask them here on my blog, or if you want to keep the conversation private you might want to sign up for a week of email support.

      thanks so much for you interest in my work!

  5. Nigel says:

    hi, writing this because I’ve met the most wonderful person on earth… 2 years ago in fact… Discovering we are BOTH Empaths… We are waking up to the idea at long last and working out what it means… It certainly explains a lot… There’s some complications along the way and we are both capable of pushing the other away and it’s proving to be a constant battle…. Resigned to a friendship and hiding from the wonderful world that could unfold… Driving us both nuts… Can’t be together, but so dependant on each other 24/7…. Makes us both unhappy.. But also capable of such wonderful feelings for each other and those around us…. Simple eh!

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Nigel,

      Empath Empath relationships can be such a challenge, and yet they can also be very rewarding when both Empaths are healthy and understand the common pitfalls of Empaths. I hope you find my books helpful–let me know if you have specific questions here on the blog, or contact me directly for email support. Wishing you the best of luck!

      much love,

  6. Josephine e says:

    I need help dealing an empath emotion/feelings. He is alway telling that I don’t understand he feeling and I don’t care about him . Please help me asap

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Josephine,

      I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with your relationship with your partner. I’d need more information in order to help you. You might want to sign up for a week of email support. Also, please read my books. The first one is free in digital form on Amazon and the other digital book sellers.

      Wishing you all the best of luck!

  7. Gail says:

    As an empath how does one deal with a person in their life that drains all of your energy? It’s someone that I really can’t push out of my life.

    • Elaine says:

      HI Gail,

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with an energy vampire. I’d need more information to be able to guide you. Have you read my books yet? The first one is free for download. I’d start there and see if the work resonates with you. You might find the whole series helpful.

      sending you a big hug!

  8. boo boo says:

    At the age of 65 , yes 65 , I have just discovered that all my life I’ve been an empath , I thought it normal behaviour to give , love , help others , friends and ex partners . I was so giving , so loving , so helpful , those who came into my life have done so well , all with my help , yet I am alone left wondering why someone who has such an open heart , generous and loving and kind is alone when all I wanted from life was a loving partner . Two broken marriages , numerous relationships , and friendships all gone , I’m left wondering ” why, what did I do wrong ”

    I’ve changed now of course , left feeling annoyed with myself , at times bitter as those who were in my life did well out of me ! In every way including money . Gosh I wish I had known and grown years ago , I wonder if I would be alone now .

    It was three weeks ago an aquantance was telling me of her broken marriage and how counselling had made her realise she was married to a narcisist and she is an empath I had a light bulb moment of realisation that I had been this all my life .

    What a waste of life , what a foolish woman I’ve been . Now I’ve shut myself down .

    • Elaine says:

      Dear Boo Boo,

      I’m so sorry you went through life being taken advantage of by narcissists! It’s a very confusing and painful way to live. I am so glad you are out of that. Now, you can spend your life with people that love and appreciate you. I hope you won’t give up on life and on love. There are lots of wonderful people out there ready to love and appreciate you. Just look back on your life and see if you can spot the warning signs of a narcissist. If you can’t, please do get some help from a therapist or a shaman if the patterns are deeply ingrained. You deserve happiness!

      much love,

      • boo boo says:

        Thankyou Elaine , sadly I’m a late learner but honestly didn’t know any different . I have been left with a hard shell around me now . It’s a shame to wear it but I must to protect myself . Reading your information has helped very much

        Thankyou x

    • Gail says:

      boo boo, I don’t think your life was wasted…or that you were foolish. I am the same age as you, 65, 2 ex husbands etc. and alone with no money.

      I’m not thrilled with the way my life has turned out for me either but I don’t think it was wasted. Family, friends and even exes lives are better because I was there for them. Anytime you can help another your life is of value…..just not the way we want or expect.

      What we need to learn is how to pick and choose those that we aid rather than squandering our energy all over the place. And we need to learn how to cope with who and what we are and how to help ourselves.

      Don’t be so hard on yourself……you’re not alone.

  9. Janet says:

    I too am an empath and my life follows boo boo’s exactly…I am 66..had 2 failed marriages and one long term/long distance relationship which drained me of love and caring and yes, even money. I am now in a relationship with 2 men…a fact that I am not overly proud of…one of the men is draining me physically and the other emotionally. I am extremely on edge and don’t know how to pull my life back together. I am trying to build up the emotional courage to end the one relationship but I keep feeling the pain the man would feel and can’t do it. I am lucky to get through a day without tears and emotional distress. I keep feeling that I must be a horrible person that these things happen to me.

    • Elaine says:

      Dear Janet,

      I am so sorry you are going through such a hard time right now! Please read my books on Empaths. I think they could really help you gain perspective. You can purchase them on Amazon in one volume called the Empath as Archetype. If you like, you can also read the first volume for free download on Amazon to make sure it is something that is helpful for you. Given that both relationships you are in are draining for you, please consider ending both of them and spending some healing time concentrating on just yourself. You aren’t a horrible person–it sounds like you just got caught in some common Empath pitfalls and they are playing out. Hang in there!!

      sending hugs,

  10. Scott says:

    Hi i have been dating an empath for the past 7 months, during this time we have had many struggles, mainly because i have not recognized her gifts nor have i embraced them. I have been doing alot of self awareness and learning more about her as an empath. I love her and want to prevent the struggles that are causing her to loose her balance in life! Please Help

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Scott,

      Can you give me a few details of what is going on between you? Or please sign up for a week of email support, and we can take this offline.


  11. Kendra says:

    Hi! So I just graduated with a social work degree (don’t know if that will help me or hurt me!) and I’ve always been empathic. But recently I think my abilities have been growing and it is starting to affect my relationship with my long term boyfriend. It seemed to happen out of the blue but I just had gotten through with my internship at a substance abuse council. I don’t know how to describe the feeling I just feel disconnected from him and the world. It’s scary. Could his have possibly come along from not knowing how to release all the energy I’ve encountered through my social work experience? I miss him when he’s right there. It’s like I can’t connect with anyone and it’s breaking my heart!

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Kendra,

      I’m so sorry you are experiencing being disconnected from your boyfriend! That has to be confusing and uncomfortable for both of you. It is very possible that the work environment you are in is affecting your energy, and you’re just too wiped out from the heaviness to connect. It’s important to learn some skills to shake all that yuck off, and then have a sacred, clear space at home to come home to. For now, imagine cutting cords when you leave work, and then get in a salt and baking soda bath and have the salt draw all the energy that’s not yours out of you. See if that helps. Also, consider signing up for a week of email support, and we can go into further detail.

      sending hugs,

  12. Alina says:


    It’s a confusing time in my life. Could I be a Narcissist Empath? Or an empath that’s been around Narcissists the majority of her life, therefore that’s all she knows??
    Got divorced 4 years ago after 11+ years. I left because I felt extremely unfulfilled. He never understood me and looked at me like I was crazy when trying to express. He would shut me up with gifts, then I’d feel very empty in the end.
    Ever since I was young I could sense what people are feeling or have extreme mood swings due to energy around me.
    My mom took me to a therapist at 4 years old to figure out what was wrong with me. I learned how to use my gift to manipulate others to get what I want. I’m lived my life extremely aware and feeling other people’s emotions and disregarded them on purpose. Instead I built this external mask that fools people and doesn’t allow them to see that I’m actually feeling what they feel.
    I also have this huge need to love, fix and to give, but pick selectively and carefully who I do it for. I would fulfill that being the counselor for friends. And need to be loved unconditionally. I’ve grown tremendously these last four years. The biggest lesson was recently, when I met a guy that completely overwhelmed me with his emotions. Could no longer be the empath narcissist. His pain was my pain, was like stabbing myself and wanting to desperately stop my own bleeding. His energy made me cry. He was still deeply hurt from a past relationship. I was so confused. Were these emotions mine or his?? I’d feel this inexplicable knot in my chest when something was off with him.
    When he would look into my eyes, he could see me and my thoughts. It’s was such a scary feeling in a way. I couldn’t hide or manipulate. He was a reflection of me. So then I had this urge to care for him, help him pick up his broken pieces but at the same time didn’t want to loose my regained freedom. And… Something just never felt 100% right. So many strong emotions in play, both of us were pulling and pushing each other away like magnets. The last two times I saw him, I tried to end things but I couldn’t. His eyes would draw me back in, like if he was asking for help. But he knew exactly what was happening in my head, no need for words. Neither of us made an effort to contact each other for more than a week. It was done. A part of me wishes that I had verbally expressed for closure. Part of me feels like I’m still carrying his baggage.
    Now I’m just starting to embrace my empath abilities and use them for the greater good. Sometimes don’t recognize myself. But still have tons to work on, and learn. Will I ever become an empathic empath?


    • Elaine says:

      Hi Alina,

      Sounds like you are an Empath in that you can tune in and feel the emotional state of others–you are good a tracking what is needed and what is going on on that emotional level. Now the task is to become a healthy Empath. I’m so sorry you got caught in such a painful relationship. I encourage you to check out my first book on the Drama Triangle–it is free in digital format at Amazon and the other digital book sellers. Learning how the Drama Triangle works will help you notice when you are playing Victim, Rescuer, and Bully, and when others give you invitations to play.

      Yes, you can heal and experience the high side of being an Empath, but it does take a lot of personal work, which can be very painful. Be gentle with yourself as you move forward.

      sending hugs,

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