Last Updated on January 28, 2023 by Lori Geurin
Wondering if you’re empathic? Here are 15 empath traits to help you figure it out.
This post will help you learn what makes empathic people truly unique. Empaths are highly sensitive people who tend to be creative, highly independent, and inquisitive. They absorb the emotions and feelings of the people around them. As you can imagine, this can be overwhelming at times, leading to some distinct challenges. As an empath myself, I know these challenges first-hand.
The good news is that if you’re an empath there are things you can do to help ease the overpowering emotions and overwhelm you may be feeling 24-7.
Many people can empathize with others, at least to a degree. But to be truly empathic is more uncommon and complex. The following list of traits will help you discover if you are an empath.
- 15 Personality Traits Of An Empath
- 1. Highly Sensitive
- 2. Strong Dislike For Toxic, Mean People
- 3. Human Lie Detectors
- 4. Absorb Other's Emotions & Feelings
- 5. Easily Distracted
- 6. Connects Quickly With People
- 7. Extremely Compassionate And (Too) Giving
- 8. Intimate Relationships Can Be Overwhelming
- 9. Refreshed In Nature
- 11. Strong Intuitive Abilities
- 12. Connects Easily With Pets
- 13. Energy Vampire Targets
- 14. Keen Senses
- 15. Often (But Not Always) Introverted
- Empath Test And Recommended Reading
- Empaths And Highly Sensitive People
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15 Personality Traits Of An Empath
1. Highly Sensitive
Empathic people are deeply tuned in to changes in their environment. They pick up on the slightest social cues, body language, facial expressions, and intonation.
They can read a room as no one else can. Many empaths recall being told, “you’re too sensitive,” often more than once.
2. Strong Dislike For Toxic, Mean People
In fact, it can be almost unbearable for empaths to be near them. And narcissistic egomaniacs are the worst.
Loud, intense, selfish, and obnoxious people are especially difficult to be around because empaths tend to pick up all of their negative energy. This is why it’s important to learn how to set healthy boundaries for yourself and make time to recharge your batteries.
3. Human Lie Detectors
Empaths often have a freakish ability to sniff out a lie before others suspect a thing. There have been many times I wish I didn’t have this ability because it can be hurtful, disappointing, and aggravating to be lied to.
But it sure comes in handy when you’re raising 4 children.
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4. Absorb Other’s Emotions & Feelings
Empaths absorb (or internalize) the feelings of other people as their own. It’s not something they choose to do. In fact, it happens without realizing it’s happening.
This makes it especially difficult to differentiate their emotions from other people’s emotions.
Empaths connect deeply with other people on an emotional level because they are keenly aware of what others are feeling. This makes them especially vulnerable to taking on other’s negativity and sometimes even their physical symptoms.
5. Easily Distracted
Empaths often have difficulty focusing, especially when in large groups of people or loud environments. This comes as no surprise when you consider all of the feedback they absorb from the people and things in their environment.
Noise-canceling headphones (or a quiet room) can be your best friend if you are working on a project that requires concentration.
6. Connects Quickly With People
This is a double-edged sword. While it can be a gift to understand people on a deep level it can also put the empath in a vulnerable and sometimes unsafe place.
This is because their *empathic-ness exposes them to connecting too quickly with people they just met when it might be best to maintain some distance with healthy boundaries.
7. Extremely Compassionate And (Too) Giving
Empaths are often very compassionate, understanding, and accepting of people from all walks of life and love to support the underdog. They’re often kind to people even when they’ve been wronged and can be taken advantage of or lose touch with their personal limits and needs.
They can have trouble saying, “no” because they understand how hurtful rejection feels and don’t want to be the source of another person’s pain.
And, interestingly enough, empaths will sometimes apologize and even take responsibility for someone else’s actions even though they did nothing wrong.
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8. Intimate Relationships Can Be Overwhelming
Dr. Judith Orloff refers to empaths as super-responders because they’re highly attuned to everyone around them (including the people they love the most). This can be physically draining, so empaths need their space and time alone to recharge.
In 10 Secrets To Loving An Empath, Dr. Orloff says,
“For an empath, having alone time in a relationship is about self-preservation. It’s not just a luxury.”Dr. Judith Orloff
If you or someone you love is an empath, you might also want to read Dr. Orloff’s Relationship Tips For Highly Sensitive People.
9. Refreshed In Nature
Spending time in nature restores balance to an empath’s life. Escaping the stresses of modern-day life and breathing fresh air or visiting a beach can be so rejuvenating to the mind, body, and soul.
11. Strong Intuitive Abilities
Empaths filter the world through their highly-tuned intuition. Listening to their gut instincts about people can help them learn to avoid energy vampires.
A mature empath learns to fully recognize their intuition.
12. Connects Easily With Pets
Empaths often have a strong connection to their pets and animals. (Ever hear of the Dog Whisperer?) Having a loyal pet that gives unconditional love can be calming to an empath.
(With the exception of this moment…as I’m writing this we are under a tornado warning. In January. Our Boston Terrier Max is freaking out, about to have a panic attack under my desk chair, panting, the poor baby. And our other, much younger Boston, Rudy keeps licking his face to help him feel better. They’re a pair, but I love them.)
13. Energy Vampire Targets
Empaths are particular targets for emotional vampires who can drain their energy as no one else can.
Narcissists, drama queens, and incessant talkers need not apply here.
But, all kidding aside, as empaths learn to set clear boundaries with people they can protect themselves from emotional vampires. Check out Dr. Orloff’s 4 Strategies To Survive Emotional Vampires.
14. Keen Senses
Most empaths have finely-tuned senses. This is why too much of a good thing is not a good thing for an empath.
Pungent smells, loud environments, long conversations, large groups of people or uncomfortable clothing can all be too much.
15. Often (But Not Always) Introverted
I consider myself an extroverted introvert because I love my people big but I need my time alone. Maybe you can relate?
Many empaths tend to be introverted, but not all. Keep in mind that introversion and extroversion happen along a spectrum and don’t determine whether you are an empath or not.
Many empaths are selective about who they spend their time with. We often prefer relaxed, kind, and chill people over judgemental, intense, and needy ones.
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Now that you’re familiar with the personality traits of an empath let me point you to some helpful resources…
Empath Test And Recommended Reading
So, besides the personality traits of an empath listed above, how do you know if you are an empath?
Well, it’s a feeling you get in your gut…
But empath jokes aside.
Here’s a free empath test, courtesy Dr. Orloff who’s written bestsellers about empathic people.
The quick self-assessment has 20 questions. I completed and scored the test in less than 5 minutes. According to the test, I’m an Extreme Empath. If you asked the people close to me, this isn’t surprising at all.
When I learned a few years back what being empathic meant and that I’m a full-blown empath it was freeing to me. It felt like I finally had answers to why I was the quirky (yet loveable) human that I am.
And why life can be so extremely challenging at times.
Now I’ve learned strategies to help me set boundaries, protect myself from toxic people, and nourish my body and soul when life becomes too much. Spending quiet time in nature, doing calming activities, and taking care of myself are priorities now.
When empaths learn how to protect themselves from energy vampires and take personal responsibility for their well-being many of their empathic qualities can be transformed. Instead of seeing them as difficult, you can start to see them as a gift that can be used for good.
If you’re looking for an informative read, Dr. Orloff’s The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies For Sensitive People is excellent. It’s helped me better understand, adapt to, and appreciate my life as an empathic person.
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And, one more thing…
Empaths And Highly Sensitive People
A common question many people have is: What is the difference between empaths and highly sensitive people?
Dr. Orloff gives a great response to this question on her blog, so be sure to check that out.
There are some interesting things I’ll point out here quickly. If you think of this along a spectrum it helps. First, according to Dr. Elaine Aron, empaths share all of the characteristics of Highly Sensitive People (HSP).
Yet, the traits of empathic people include much more than HSP. This includes absorbing energy from other people’s emotions and physical environments. This impacts empaths in a very deep way that’s not usually experienced by HSP’s.
You can be both an empath and an HSP. But not every HSP is an empath.
Back to the spectrum concept…According to Dr. Orloff, if empaths are on the most empathic end of the spectrum, the HSP is more in the middle. With the narcissists (people with zero empathy) being on the lowest end of the spectrum.
Are you an empathic person or do you live with someone who is? Can you relate to the empath traits listed above? Share below!
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