24th September 2023

Empathy: The Key to Improving Relationships

Empathy: The Key to Improving Relationships

How Does Empathy Most Likely Improve a Relationship?

Have you ever met someone who seemed to have no clue on how to read the room before they began to speak or act a certain way? Well, this person most likely has no idea how empathy works. Unfortunately, if you’re in a relationship with such a person, chances are that you’re constantly thinking of pulling the hair off your head with exasperation.

People with empathy can understand someone else’s feelings and get the situations that translate into such feelings. Prosocial behavior is common among highly empathic, meaning they intend to benefit others. If there’s no empathy in a relationship, there’s a huge emotional disconnect and communication deficit that needs to be addressed. But how does empathy in relationships help you get ahead? Read on to find out!

What Exactly is Empathy?

Cognitive empathy requires taking the time to comprehend the sentiments of people on some issues from their vantage point. Empathy has the impact of helping to defuse tense situations and resolve contentious disagreements, which in turn strengthens relationships.

When you have empathy for someone, it means you can put yourself in their shoes and conceptualize what they’re thinking and feeling. Empathic people feel the world and others’ emotional experiences through their eyes. In a relationship, you care about your partner’s feelings and well-being as much as you do your own.

Emotional empathy is the capacity to put oneself in another person’s position, comprehend their emotions and points of view, and then employ that comprehension to direct one’s behavior. In addition, making eye contact is already a critical skill for the concept of empathy.

This distinguishes it from acts of charity or pitying others. And don’t mistake it with the Golden Rule, which says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” because the two are different. According to George Bernard Shaw, “Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you—they may have different preferences.”

Discovering those sensations is an essential part of developing empathy. Your level of empathy partly depends on how much you encounter situations and deal with them in your daily life. The development of empathy goes through different levels and types of empathy. 

Why Is Empathy So Important In Relationships?

Learn more about ways to display affection to your partner: ‘How to be Affectionate in Relationships: 11 Tips and Tricks

Naturally, you most likely want to learn how to build affective empathy in relationships. But first, we have to understand why empathy is a crucial element for building healthy relationships. Lack of empathy can result in partners being indifferent or inconsiderate towards each other. Imagine this scenario:

Dan and Emily have just had dinner. They both work incredibly demanding jobs, but both try to make time for each other each day after dinner. However, today was a tough day for Emily, but she knows that the dishes need to be washed and put away to enjoy time with Dan.

Dan, on the other hand, wants to relax. So he puts on a show he likes on the T.V. and proceeds to watch it. Emily isn’t amused and gives Dan a piece of her mind. Dan says he’s tired and that since Emily is the woman of the house, it’s her job to ensure everything is clean and tidy for the next day. Emily responds by talking about how tired she is; she needs help so they can both rest and finally have time together. Dan shrugs and walks away. This, and other scenarios, are precisely why we need empathy in our relationships.

  • Cognitive empathy makes us human: when we have empathy, all our actions and responses to outside stimuli are guided by kindness and respect. We allow ourselves to see various ways to see one thing. When we have empathy, we can connect with our significant other more meaningfully and n a more profound way. A lack of empathy shows is a pointer that a relationship is likely to be more superficial. In the scenario above, if there had been empathy, both Dan and Emily would have had more benefits other than a clean home and kitchen.
  • Emotional empathy is vital for an emotional connection: Partners in a relationship require emotional connections to keep the relationship going. If anything, an emotional connection is something that humans want and need naturally. When both partners have empathy, they most likely also have excellent communication skills. The truth is that maintaining deep connections isn’t always easy, but it’s something you can work on to strengthen the emotional bond you and your partner share.
  • Partners feel heard and understood: Few things are as satisfying as when someone you love cannot only perceive your situation but also be aware of the emotions that come from it without necessarily wanting to guide you along a different path. It doesn’t matter how old your relationship is. When your partner makes you feel heard and understood, you’re driven to connect with them at a deeper level. There’s a positive relationship between one’s level of understanding and enhanced levels of connection in any relationship.

Andrea Brandt, Ph.D., M.F.T., says that “a long-term romantic relationship has to be based on more than shared likes and mutual dislikes. You and your partner may agree 99% of the time, but it’s that 1% that can spell disaster if there’s no empathy between you.”

Of course, there’s one question women are bound to ask. Can you close emotional intelligence skills gaps when dating to ensure they develop the empathy needed in long-term relationships? Yes, anyone can develop the skills that are required to learn and adopt empathy as a relationship skill.

Don’t let others ruin your relationship by telling you that you or your significant other can’t learn empathy. The concept of empathy might come naturally to some people, but others can learn how to use it in their day-to-day lives. The limits of empathy are only in your head.

How to Build Empathy In Romantic Relationships

We understand the concept of empathy and that vital empathy is crucial in romantic relationships. But once we’ve learned that, shouldn’t we become more empathetic toward our partners? Of course, we should! Luckily, there’s no one way for you to show a high level of empathy in a relationship. So if you’re lost, here’s how you can focus on developing empathy and get a higher score.

  • Understand your partner and their emotional deficits so you can address their needs
  • Acknowledge that your partner is holistically an entirely different human being, and how they may handle issues is different from the way you would. That doesn’t mean their feelings aren’t valid.
  • You have to put yourself in your partner’s shoes to understand where their emotions are coming from
  • Understand that you can’t practice cognitive empathy if you can’t tend to your emotions and needs. You have to practice compassion on yourself before you try it on others. According to N.Y-based therapist Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D., “People who lack empathy also tend to lack an understanding of how they feel in varying situations.” (Inks)
  • Practice active listening. It’s one thing to want to make a statement, but quite another to listen and give your partner the attention they deserve when making a point.
  • Ask your partner more questions. This allows them to talk more about their feelings. If you get the feeling that something is wrong, it most likely is, so rather than assuming you know what the issue is, ask them so you can gain a better understanding of the situation.
  • Here’s an excellent tip. Learning empathy will mean that you have to put your skills to the test. What better way to do this than to meet other people? Meeting new people ensures you’re exposed to multi-personalities and how they translate empathy. How about that? Reading books on empathy can also help you learn a lot. Expand your knowledge on the topic and expose yourself to different views from scholars and authors about how empathy works. Some of the best ones include Read People Like a Book and Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It.

The Traits That Characterize Highly Empathetic People

So, what do empathetic people have that others do not? To be honest, a lot. And, because this is such a desirable trait, it’s not your imagination: the term “empathy” seems to be popping up everywhere these days. It is now a topic of conversation among professionals in the fields of science and business, as well as education and politics.

According to Gary Gilles, LCPC, Empathy can cut through that emptiness and give you a relational connection like nothing else. Empathy is a skill that enables you to feel something akin to what another person is feeling. When you practice empathy, you put your feelings, facts, and stories aside and intently focus on what the other person is experiencing.

However, a fundamental question that very few people ask is, “How can I increase my capacity for empathy?” It’s not enough to have empathy to expand the borders of your moral cosmos. But, according to the findings of recent studies, it’s a practice that all of us may work to develop to make our own lives better.

Here’s how you can build this trait and make yourself an individual known around their circles as someone that cares for those around them:

Listen and open up

To be considered an empathetic conversationalist, one must possess two characteristics. The first step is to become an expert in the radical art of listening. The capacity to listen is the ability to be present to what is going on within a person, to the specific sensations and requirements that someone is going through at that particular time.

The second quality is the ability to expose our vulnerabilities. Developing a deep empathic connection with another person requires us to take off our facades and be open and honest about our emotions. The most effective form of empathy is a two-way street founded on mutual comprehension and sharing our most significant experiences and beliefs.

What is empathy fatigue?

Empathy fatigue is not just prevalent among adolescents but also among adults. It is possible to have empathy fatigue following prolonged exposure to traumatic or distressing experiences.

Additionally, you may feel numb or helpless, withdraw from people, and have diminished vitality. For instance, it is essential to avoid emotional exhaustion when giving care. Therefore, empathy fatigue is a reason to contact a psychologist.

Develop an inquisitive nature toward unknown people.

Very empathetic people typically have an insatiable need to learn about new people. They will engage in conversation with the person sitting next to them on the bus because they have kept the innate curiosity we all have as children, but society is so brilliant at training us to lose this trait. In addition, because of social media, future generations might not see empathy as an essential trait.

They think other people are more intriguing than they are, yet they are not interested in questioning those other individuals. When we talk to people outside our regular social circle, we experience lives and worldviews significantly different from our own. This broadens our capacity for empathy, which in turn improves our ability for curiosity.

It takes more than having a conversation about the weather to cultivate curiosity. It places a significant emphasis on attempting to comprehend the world from the other person’s perspective.

Every day, we are put in the presence of people we have never met before, such as the severely tattooed woman who brings your mail or the new employee who always eats his lunch alone. So put yourself to the test by challenging yourself to talk with a stranger once a week. All it needs is bravery.

In a nutshell

Emotional intelligence doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and some people are unaware that tone of voice can significantly impact your perceived empathy in relationships. To build empathy skills, you’ll need to focus on the critical components of this article. Raising empathy levels in your everyday life can help rid negative emotions and helps to build a deeper connection with the people you love.

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Chari Bong'osa


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