The other side of being an empath is not feeding off of the egoic nature of helping others. Your self-sacrifice may be superficial because you enjoy feeling needed. You think it proves your value. So you surround yourself with people who you deem as weaker or victims, being there to constantly 'fix' their problems. I think that is an inherent understanding of an empath until you go through things yourself and you realize where your ego negatively impacts you or holds a story of you being this saviour.
It's that feeling that you get at a young age, almost a superiority that you know you are advanced, maybe just more mature and you feel compelled to take care of everyone else. It's something that happened to me at the age of 7. It all kicked in without me even realizing it. My strength but the deeply impactful feelings I would feel of self and others without comprehending what it was.
It's that feeling of responsibility for others you perceive as weaker. You tend to pick up others along the way who make volatile life choices because you will be there to pick up the pieces for them and support them. But in a way, that is empathic co-dependency as strong and resilient as you may be.
Romanticizing people, seeing what others don't in them has been something I have been good at. It's also how one gets burned—showing that loyal devotion to someone, however, can be so powerful, and the right ones in your life will not take advantage of that or admonish you for that love. Some people may also not fully grasp that concept of unconditional love which you hold due to their past, but those who are worth it deliver them patience and devotion with boundaries for self and take about half of your love and give it back to you.
If they really love you too and express it differently, it's about harnessing all that love in your heart and spreading it amongst all areas of your life, which is a learning curve. Talk about it openly though, don't be afraid to communicate that your heart will explode out of your chest. Other people will show you their true nature, boundaries, and consideration for you through these moments. You may feel misunderstood as well, but that is up for you to figure it all out and not place that externally.
I have become very open about where I am and what I still need to learn. The vulnerability has been great freedom. I am better at detaching from the aide I provide now with continual effort, but that also came from identifying and clearing old suppressed pains. It is the unfortunate role of the empath to take on the sufferage of others, but when worked on, you can be of great aid to them and not sacrifice yourself in the process.