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Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA]  |  Energy Work, Psionics, & Paranormal Studies  |  Meditation & Energetic Healing (Moderators: Merticus, SoulSplat, Eclecta, Maloryn, Zero)  |  Empathic Fascination 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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The Sentinel
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« on: June 20, 2010, 03:00:32 AM »

While I didn't see a specific forum for dealing with empathy, I figured this is as good a place to post this as any, seeing as empathy is a "healing" ability, of sorts.

I have, over the years, regularly encountered a particular situation that is likely familiar to anyone that has empathic inclinations. I have called it, and heard others call it, "empathic fascination" or "empathic love" or similar things. It's a difficult thing to live with and almost always ends in heartache for someone. It's not something I've really seen discussed anywhere, at least not on a metaphysical level. It's been discussed in psychology training I've had, but most empaths I've met aren't trained in psychology.

What I mean by this is the fact that we tend to draw to us people that are in emotional need. People that are lost, lonely, hurting, feeling adrift, or otherwise in trauma. Whether it's romantic trauma (the loss of a relationship, or some such), familial trauma (family death, substance abuse, etc.), or personal trauma (illness, substance abuse, etc.), they seem to be drawn to those of us that display empathy because we have the capacity, more than most to understand what they are going through in ways that others might not. Beyond that, empaths seem to exude an aura about them that suggests that they are to be trusted.

Many, many times in my life people have commented that when they are with me, they feel a sense of safety and peace. Particularly when in physical contact with me (whether it's simple as a hug or intimate as a lover's embrace). It's become a pretty common thing for people to tell me such things, and there are many times where I will purposefully create that aura around myself if someone I care for is going through a rough time. Everyone needs a place they can be safe and where they can feel protected and cared for. It's a human need, and most empaths are programmed to want to respond to it.

The unfortunate side effect of this is that the people that we extend our loving arms to (and by love I mean just that, not a romantic love, just a deep compassion and caring) end up falling in love with us. Why? Because we make them feel good. We make them feel right and we make them feel happy or at peace in a place or time where nothing else seems to do that. Fortunately, there are many cases where that fades away once the trauma has ended and we've stopped "treating" them, as it were, when their emotional scars are more healed. Though often it can create confusion and frustration for both parties.

Many empaths end up feeling the call to extend their care to others and mistake that for romantic interest in a person. And many people being cared for by an empath mistake that warmth, peace, and joy they feel when in that empath's presence for love. This isn't to say that genuine, real love cannot grow out of these feelings or that these feelings are a lie, but frequently it isn't actually love and is only an intense form of infatuation that fades.

My experience has long been that there are people out there that latch onto you when they need love and when they come through their hardship they lose that infatuation and need for the presence and care of the empath and move on with their lives, leaving the empath behind. This is a very difficult and wrenching experience that I'm sure many people can relate to. It's not that they intentionally are using us for anything, it is never an act of malice and I fully believe that people rarely really know that they're doing it. Again, this is absolutely not to say that empaths can't have friends or develop friendships through helping others. It's completely possible, I've done it. But it's far more frequent that these relationships are based on a supply and demand state of being and once the demand is gone, the buyer is no longer interested in the item.

I have yet to find a way to keep this kind of thing from happening. In fact, it's a rather constant frustration for me, because often I have problems with people attaching themselves to me and then I have to turn their romantic feelings away. It's very difficult in the sense that my heart goes out to them. I feel wretched for having to turn them down, I really do. But at the same time, not only am I very, very happily in a relationship, it wouldn't be right for me to engage in a relationship on those terms.

I'm probably going to add to this later, but for now here's this that I'm just tossing out there for discussion. I'm pretty certain others have had this experience as well and am interested to see what comes out of it.
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Synora
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2010, 01:22:29 AM »

Your post makes a lot of sense to me. I consider myself very empathic (also, another person training in psychology/counseling like yourself). I have been surprised on several occasions when I am emotionally supportive to someone, often a person with few friends or few supportive friends, and these people have mistaken my desire to listen and support them for attraction. It really confused me the first time it happened, but this specific person had never had another woman take the time to listen to their issues and pains in life. So, I guess he thought that I must have feelings for him, when I would listen and be there for anyone in need. Based on that experience, when it has happened again I do tend to find a similar theme with others, that they have just never had someone express that they cared enough to listen and be there for them. They confuse our care for attraction and maybe love. That's the piece I could relate to from your post. Were your experiences similar?
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The Sentinel
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2010, 01:33:01 PM »

I have absolutely had that experience on more than one occasion and it's very frustrating when that which we are called to do means that we have to put ourselves in the line of danger, as it were. I dislike intensely having to break hearts but the hell I'm going to be falling for anyone like that. >.o
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A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
-- Alexander Pope, Unknown , 1688-1744

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Heinlein's Razor
Synora
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2010, 03:27:52 PM »

It's extremely hard, especially knowing how lonely and sad that person is and they truly may have no one else. And although it may hurt them to learn we're not romantically interested. I think it's healthy for them to learn that someone can care without having romantic feelings for them. Even if it's hard for them to hear or understand. I've had several pull away very abruptly and not even able to maintain a friendship after that. And that's the hardest part for me, because it's not that I don't care. It's just I don't care for them in the way they wish.
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The Sentinel
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2010, 07:35:48 PM »

*nods* Agreed. Except I have the problem of them not understanding that "I'm not interested" means "I'm not interested, sorry." It's even worse because I'm engaged and have the ring on my left hand to show for it, people have a habit of not respecting that.
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A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
-- Alexander Pope, Unknown , 1688-1744

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Heinlein's Razor
Synora
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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2010, 12:24:28 AM »

So, you've had some not understand you weren't interested, and continue to pursue you? People online or in person or both? It might not feel good, but online it's an easy fix. In person, especially at work or if you have some of the same friends then it would get much more frustrating.
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The Sentinel
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2010, 01:38:56 AM »

The problems are more in person than online because, as you say, online is an easy fix. In person, if it's someone that has my phone number or knows where I live or knows where I work it is a problem. I've had many situations where someone has almost become a stalker because they were obsessed with me. It's a potentially dangerous situation.
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A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
-- Alexander Pope, Unknown , 1688-1744

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Heinlein's Razor
Synora
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2010, 07:02:21 PM »

Wow.. I hope you and your partner know how to physically protect yourselves. That would be pretty difficult to have to deal with.
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The Sentinel
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« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2010, 08:15:45 PM »

I'm a martial arts instructor and he's a black belt in Tang Soo Do, so we've got the physical thing covered, fortunately. It's just mentally and emotionally taxing because some of the worst attachment problems I've had have been people that are psychic vampires (no insult to this community at all, just a fact). Though the ones that attached themselves to me didn't know what they were and so were (and are) unconsciously draining me. I can put up shields and such, of course, but it's also the constant barrage of needs that eventually is very, very wearing.
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A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
-- Alexander Pope, Unknown , 1688-1744

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Heinlein's Razor
Thought
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2010, 04:28:39 PM »

You'll find this all across the board when you're talking about people who study psychology.  I've discussed it several times with my colleagues.  It's a trait that people who study psychology share and we could do chicken or egg thing...but it's often something we carry with us all our lives.  As children we're often thought of as very bright and almost 'adult-like' as well.  There are many other tell-tale signs of the type of people you are describing...but yes, I'm there with you and also a seasoned psychologist.

I suggest developing your shielding techniques.  Though it hurts to do, sometimes I have to put an aura around me that says 'no room at the inn.'  And be careful that sometimes those people in need become a part of you.  When they wrench free it can be spiritually painful.  Sometimes they leave, and sometimes they become obsessive.  Honestly, I'm not sure which is worse.  I'm happily married and have a son, and yet there are friends who will freely admit they would be right there if somehow my marriage ended today.  All I can do is sigh...

But along the lines of this, is having this happen vicariously to another.  I have a good friend whom came to me in a similar manner.  Yet she herself is quite empathetic.  Someone managed to latch heavily onto her and started to suck her absolutely dry.  Then of course inevitably she tells me 'I think so and so thinks they are in LOVE with me! What do I do!?'  It was a very nasty sticky situation that is not all the way settled really.

It has its ups and downs.  Helping those people fulfills an emotional and spiritual need in us as well as vice versa.  Be aware of your own needs when someone suction cups themselves to your hip.  Sometimes even when we KNOW it doesn't affect the outcome.  They still leave and we feel sick, or they turn psycho and we have to shoo them away.  Just be careful...
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The Sentinel
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2010, 05:16:28 PM »

I am well experienced in most of what you describe and I understand the dangers inherent in being what I am as well as my pursuits in psychology. On top of my natural empathic inclinations, I am also pursuing degrees in psychology and intend on becoming a trauma therapist. I've got good instincts on that level and I understand the need for boundaries with people. My biggest issue is when people don't get the "no room at the inn" message and I have to forcibly and bluntly tell them to screw off. That's the hard part. I've got several guys that are currently in that stage where I have to push them back to arm's length for my own sanity.

My shields lately are at an all time low because I'm under constant fire. I won't get into (and bore you with) the details, but my home life is a deeply abusive, stressful, and debilitating situation and so I've got to be constantly at my peak performance and have no chance to recharge or relax, which is extremely exhausting. Particularly considering it's been like this for almost two years straight without a moment's peace. And it's only getting worse. So my energy lately has been week and feeble at best most of the time. My shielding technique is usually very good I just haven't had the energy to put much into them as of late simply because I've been so drained.

I appreciate the suggestions and feedback, and will consider what you said as well. I appreciate the compassion very much.
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A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
-- Alexander Pope, Unknown , 1688-1744

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Heinlein's Razor
The Night Watchman
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2010, 11:06:55 PM »

I, also, can concur with what has been said here.  I am empathic, myself, and have fallen victim to the "Empathic Infatuation" as I call it.  There have been several occasions where women have told me that they have, or currently were in the process of, falling in love with me while they were "under my care".  The biggest problem for me is that I am not a conventionally attractive man, and have spent basically my entire life alone.  I've had hardly any friends, the only thing close to a girlfriend I'd ever had cheated on me, used me, and took advantage of me constantly.  Fearful of being alone again, I stayed with her for a full year while fully aware of the cheating.  On top of this, I am a victim of lifelong emotional, verbal, mental, and sexual abuse.

Due to these things, as has been discussed, when these people have clung to me and given themselves and their fates over to me, it created a sense of pride, strength, and security in me to look after, protect, and help someone.  My emotional attachment to them would grow almost (or just) as strong as theirs for me, and when they mistook their feelings for love or infatuation, I too would reflect those feelings within myself. 

Every time this has happened, the need for my care has eventually ended and every one of them has moved on and often completely left me behind without friendship or even contact, or wind up an enemy or have them become confrontational and snippy toward me.  This has always left me further alone, broken, and empty inside.  Hell, I rarely ever got a "thank you".  Now, I don't reach out to people because I am after reward.  If I see someone in need and don't try to help, I feel....wrong.  Sick inside.  As if I'm not doing what I'm meant to do.  However, it is nice to see even a glimmer of appreciation from time to time.  Especially because I have, on several occasions, put myself, my time, my money, and my feelings on the line for others.  So much to the point that I wound up $2000 in debt with no way to recover it, at one point. 

The emptiness that came along with such things, on top of a lifetime of (and still continuous) abuse has lead me to such wonderful things such as severe clinical depression, obsessive eating and weight gain, heart trouble, and emotional scarring that has helped to lead to numerous clashing problems with my fiance, whom is also an abuse victim.

All of these things wound up in me having a severe breakdown at one point.  When this happened, and I desperately needed people in my life, I was abandoned.  Those that I was (at the time) caring for, saw that I had become weak and that I could no longer support them.  So instead of standing up to help me, they wandered away and treated me like a pariah.  Some leper to be shunned, whispered about, and forgotten.

Later, when in a car accident that permanently damaged my spine and ended my life as I knew it, almost all of my friends (some so close I considered family) walked away.  They moved on with their lives and left me behind when I needed them most.  Some abandoned me because I gained a lot of weight due to having to spend most of my life now in bed (unable to move because of my spine) and they were ashamed or embarrassed to be seen with me.

I have been fully aware of "Empathic Infatuation" for quite some time.  I am fully aware of the risks involved in such things, and the risks can be severe.  Living your life for others becomes severely detrimental, and can be traumatic, to your own.  Empathic infatuation, in and of itself, can be a very dangerous thing.  I haven't even touched on stalking, as I've not had this problem.  But I believe the information provided by everyone here dos paint a clear picture and warning to other empaths out there.  Be careful!  There can be great rewards and strong feelings that come with helping others.  A feeling of self-fulfillment that, for people like us, can be gained by few other things.  Just remember to analyze the hell out of feelings of love and fascination that come from both those who attach to you, and from you, yourself.  Be aware of your feelings and try to decide if they are real (on both sides) or just needs being met that are creating an energy between the two of you that will eventually fade.

Energy is a fickle and tricky thing.  If you can find someone that you truly create a circular flow with, then that is fantastic.  But, for your sake and sanity and for those you tend to, make sure you know what you feel and know where it stems from.  Not only are we, the empaths, caretakers and guardians, but psychologists, strategists, and architects of destiny.  We save lives, help to find direction, and clarify the clouded. 

Always remember that we are not alone.  I spent most of my life thinking I was some manner of freak because I could literally not only feel what other people were feeling, but take their emotions into myself, removing the negative from them.  But in more recent years, I am meeting and understanding that there are more empaths out there than I could ever have imagined.  We are here, we are strong (stronger than we often ever feel we can be), and we are many.  Take solace in that and hold on.  Every day, just hold on for one more day.

Be weary of the infatuations, on both sides.  Be mindful of whom you allow to attach to yourself, such as energy leeches (which I will speak about in another thread sometime), and be mindful of what you do with the emotions you take into yourself.  I, for example, am a pain eater.  My problem is that I take other people's pains and negative emotions into myself, stealing it from them.  Though I swallow it down, and it infects me like a cancer.  Lingering in me and entwining itself with my own emotions, leaving me in pain and with no one of my own to turn to and take it away.

I know I've been rambling for some time, and have strayed from the main topic of "empathic infatuation" a few times.  But what I am trying to say, all in all, is for all you empaths out there to be mindful.  Protect yourselves and keep yourselves right.  Remember, if we end up allowing ourselves to crumble, we cannot support anyone else.  We put others ahead of ourselves, but we must also maintain our own sanity, feelings, and lives.  We are human, too, in the end.  And even we, the heroes, need someone in a cape to carry us at times.

Good luck to you all.  Stay strong.  Stay safe.  Save this world, one life at a time.
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Decline
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2010, 10:52:42 AM »

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