You & The Empathic Man…

This week’s question comes from Marcie:

“Dear Orna and Matthew,

I’ve been dating a great guy for a few months and he’s really different from the type of man I’ve dated in the past. He clearly loves me deeply and has a sensitive heart. At times I feel like he is so in tune with how I’m feeling and it feels really incredible.

The men I used to date didn’t ever seem to care about me at all, really a bunch of insensitive jerks.

I am so grateful to have him in my life and I don’t want to do anything to lose him, so I’m writing to you for your help and advice.

The problem is that sometimes it seems like he’s not present with me at all. I can’t get a sense of him. It’s as if that sensitive heart he has is being taken from me. I can’t ever predict when he is going to be like this. It has me feeling uncertain and I begin to question whether he cares about me at all. And then, the next time I see him, he is his loving self again.

I can’t seem to reconcile his sort of hot and cold mood swings… but it feels unpredictable. I get angry and upset when he’s like that. We’ve had several fights and I’m afraid I’m pushing him away – coming across as too needy.

What can I do to keep him? I love him so much and yet I feel so confused. Ultimately, I’m starting to wonder if I can trust myself to know a good match for me. I think he is, and then I worry that he’s not.

Is there hope for us? I really want to know what you think.”

Dear Marcie,

Thanks for reaching out to us. We hear the pain you feel and the struggle you’re going through. We have some thoughts that we believe can guide you in the right direction.

As you’ve experienced, men come in all types and personalities. The man you’re describing is not the typical masculine alpha male that we’re led to believe so many women desire. The dance of the masculine and feminine comes in many different styles and flavors.

It sounds like your man is empathic. The way you describe how in sync he is with you fits perfectly to someone who can read energy and at times can be right in tune with what is going on with you.

When we speak of someone being empathic, we are describing a person who is extremely sensitive to the energy around them, feels very deeply, and also very in tune with other people’s feelings. Often times, people who are empathic have difficulty distinguishing their own feelings from someone else’s.

Many people (including supposed experts) mistakenly attribute empathic qualities to introverts only, however, extroverts can be just as empathic. Men and women can be equally empathic, however, they tend to have different strategies for dealing with how they cope with the intensity of feeling so much.

The way you describe your man fits with we know to be true about men who are empathic. They can be very sensitive and in tune with their partner. They can also become overwhelmed by their partner’s emotions, and feel the need to withdraw or check out regularly.

It’s likely that when he withdraws, he needs his own space to recharge and recalibrate himself. It’s possible that he doesn’t have the communication skills to share his needs with you.

The first step for you is to not take his behavior personally. Be forewarned that this gets harder to do the longer you two are together. This is true of all intimate relationships. In the beginning we see our partner’s behavior as who they are. After a few years or decades together the boundary lines get blurred and we start to take our partner’s behavior personally.

It’s imperative to remember in all our relationships that how someone behaves informs you about who they are and what they are capable of. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I wonder how my behavior will affect Marcie today.”

The second thing is to let go of your resistance to his behavior. You could say to him, “I feel disconnected from you. Are you able to connect with me or do you need some space?”

When you communicate clearly about your own feelings, don’t take his behavior personally, and allow him the space to do what he needs to do, then you can create the space for him to reconnect with you when he is available – the way that you most enjoy.

No partner can be emotionally connected to you 24/7 – no person can give you that. Plus, that is the recipe for a co-dependent relationship.

In a lifelong partnership it is important that both people individuate regularly and have a clear boundary between them.

We liken this dance of the masculine and feminine to ballroom dancers. They come together to create a beautiful dance and still remain two different people. The boundary between them remains in place as they each provide different qualities and energies to create the one dance.

About the authors

Love Coaches Orna and Matthew Walters

Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.

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