Some people lend themselves better to conditioning that says they should be boundaryless to the outside world, being available for many different people and purposes through their job, their family, neighborhood or social group or their church. They may set a boundary because their partner insists upon it, “She/He doesn’t like it when I go out on weekends,” or “She/He insists I spend Saturdays with the family.” But the person themselves may not actually set the boundary without prompting from their partner. And, in fact, they might use their partner as an excuse to set the boundary rather than setting the boundary themselves.
The empath may be vulnerable to further conditioning and manipulation through guilt, being ignored or frozen out of interactions or the simple awareness of someone else’s pain. The person who has walled off—denied their empathic nature—may work to either protect their partner or exploit their partner to meet only their needs or the needs they approve of, or both.
What happened in the childhoods of those of us who were not raised to understand or practice the process of setting boundaries? What happened to those of us who retained our ability to be empaths and those of us who somehow gave up or denied the empathic nature we had as very young children?