Empaths are more than empathetic. Like an HSP–highly sensitive person–they’re highly attuned to stimuli and other people’s emotions and energy, usually to a degree considered transpersonal or paranormal. They may be codependent and end up in abusive relationships. Let’s first consider some definitions. An HSP has a rich inner life and deep central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. So an HSP may also be an empath, but encompasses more attributes. A codependent is someone whose feelings, thoughts, and actions revolve around another person.[i]
Empaths and Codependency
A codependent needn’t be empathetic and an empath needn’t be codependent. Some people justify or glorify their codependency on the fact that they’re empathetic; however, codependency is something very specific. Your focus can revolve around someone else, without really empathizing with what that person is experiencing. Codependents might do that to figure out the other person’s mood and then gauge how to react and be liked. They might not know their own feelings or what the other person feels or care much about it; especially if his or her behavior is causing them pain; for example, due to addiction, abuse, or if the person is emotionally unavailable.