Being empathic vs. Being used

Earlier this week I spoke about empathy and how the world can be a better place through empathy.

Would like now to think outload and speak about the fine line, that emotional and mental border which is marking the space between acceptable human treatment and misuse.

Before anything, remember that a person who cares for you will never disregard your personal boundaries and wellbeing. A person who loves you will empower, support, take care of the relationship and honour your presence in their life. To be able to do that, a person needs to be in a conscious state of mind, of being -not in pain, not in starvation mode, not in survival mode. That person will stop any harming behaviour and will continuously readjust their behaviour, the other side doing the same at the same time. This channel of exchange is what makes a relationship exist.

A person who loves will always find ways to heal themselves first and their relationship with other people after that.

The main signs that a relationship is "sick" and/or becoming abusive, if those involved do not make a conscious and continuous effort to change their behaviour, are :

- lack of open communication or emotional unavailability- no exchange of energy, thoughts and emotions. The flow could be one sided- one person feeding the other- or no exchange at all is taking place, the persons being both unconsciously locked in by trauma bounding. Lack of transparency, presence of secrecy.

- lack of mutual support - nobody to go to even if apparently there is a relationship.

-lack of care and consideration for the emotional and psychological state of the other. We are all vulnerable when open or in anyway connected to another person. When this connection is transformed into a source of energy and attention supply for one person in the detriment of the other, the result is : stored resentment- which in time becomes depression, rage and anger- which the person cannot contain nor express in non harmful way, physical pain, low self esteem, negative outlook on life, substance abuse.

-lonely together-driven by the desire to fill in the empty space inside, people are doing anything it takes to avoid the pain of seeing the bare reality.

We might say : but aren't relationships made for the purpose of "completing" the other? Aren't relationships made for the purpose of filling the other to the brim?


Healthy relationships - those who learn together to love each other and go through difficulties together as team mates (healthy codependency) - bloom between people who are present physically, in their mind and body. Those involved have learned to feel and help each other. When one of them is in trouble the other one opens up and is able to embrace what ever it is, giving their partner the possibility to heal and to come back to life. This act of love can and should alternate.

There are deprecated relationships where one of the partner gives themselves the permission and considers OK to go find other sources of energy, pleasure, entertainment while leaving their partner alone to overcome whatever difficult situation they are facing (damaging codependency). This is a very painful situation to go though, leaving marks forever.

- blurry boundaries - when one of the partners does not make the health of the relationship a priority and is constantly permitting and encouraging close relationships with their ex partners or fake friends (who wouldn't be there if not for a certain reason or a hook) this is in the detriment of the "actual" relationship , which isn't in fact a relationship at that point but an advantageous situation containing both the "abuser" and the victim. They both play a role in maintaining the toxicity.

People who have developed into narcissists - this being a coping mechanism in the absence of other emotional and interpersonal abilities - consider adultery, friends for sex or friends for a certain purpose OK, they do not have the healthy natural ability to understand the pain or the damage caused, the breach in trust - thinking that life would be boring if not for a little nasty something here and there. Their own need for attention has always priority.

Narcissists regulate their internal world, their emotion, self esteem through many different exterior resources. That is why they are always hungry for more, more resources since otherwise they would be left to the pain, the emptiness of themselves.

They need and build around themselves huge circles of people and/or social media providing a constant supply of attention. Men and women in roles of power have it really easy in the culture we are living today. We all know probably of "brocken" people who did not take the time to heal, instead have fallen pray to their wound and are feeding on the weaker and uneducated ones, they continue to spread the damage.

There are women or men who support the disfunction, the emotional disability - called enablers or flying monkeys (because they are not interested the disabled person but their social role) by exchanging sex for favours, attention for favours, inappropriate photos, language or favours for favours - these happening to the detriment of the narcissist's "official" relationships and the community.

- lack of physical and mental presence - virtual relationships are illusions. We all know the power of illusions and stories we either grow up with or get intoxicated though the socialisation process. It takes a courageous soul and an educated mind to break the spell.

- violent verbal exchange - verbal abuse is very harmful, words are having such a persistent power. When being told that your work, your appearance, your family, your life is shit (or all these are completely ignored as if not existing) often enough, you might start to believe it and live it out.

- lack of growth and development together - growing together is finally the most evident and sincere proof that a relationship is healthy, positive and loving. Love gives birth to life. Unattended, unhealed pain gives birth to more pain.

Note that I am referring here to all types of relationships : among brothers and sisters, coworkers, life partners, friends. I believe that there needs to zero tolerance when faced with abuse and emotional violence, if the abusive behaviour is not being changed by consciously understanding what has happened and why a specific thing is either disrespectful or damaging.

Books :

Should I stay or should I go. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist by Ramani Durvasula Ph.D

What happened to you? by Oprah Winfrey, Bruce D. Perry