Empathy & relationships

It helps when people have empathy towards each other. It also helps to be around others who are empathetic, but does it make relationships or friendships harder when empathy is only used by one of you?

It certainly makes for very challenging times when one person is empathetic and the other isn’t. When one person doesn’t empathise, it’s always difficult for the other person to know how to react. It’s a fact that understanding, compassion and empathy all make for better relationships.

Not everyone is empathetic, but it helps if you have a little understanding as to how someone else might feel. I think more people would be understanding, if they just took the time to listen. If we’re not being understanding, it’s usually because we’re not listening, or we don’t care. We’re not listening because we’re usually thinking about something else. We’re not giving the other person time.

Unfortunately, when we don’t use empathy, we can come across as being cold and aloof, but as long as cold and aloof doesn’t mean were evasive, calculating or manipulative there’s no real reason why we can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t have these characteristics. It’s a matter of finding common ground.

It’s important to have like-minded people in our life who behave in similar ways. That way we automatically have something in common, which makes communicating easier. Being friends with someone who is the total opposite can make things slightly awkward, particularly if we disagree on our beliefs and methods.

We’re all different. Some people are humorous, some people may use sarcasm as a communication tool, some of us may be shy and reserved and although that can be difficult sometimes, it’s important to have a balance, so people complement each other.

Without the empathy of course, there will be little understanding. I believe all relationships need empathy to thrive. It would be enormously difficult to have a partner, let alone a soul partner without it.


23 Jan, 2014

4 thoughts on “Empathy & relationships

  1. I’m a very empathetic person. Sometimes I even cry due to someone else’s problems. I feel very deeply for others. Even certain humanity commercials on TV can make me cry!

    I believe having friends that are empathetic to your situations are important. If you don’t have them who do you go to for help or an ear to just listen to you?

    Most of the time people just want a sympathetic ear, but there are some that want more. They want you to do something to get them out of the situation they are in and when you can’t help in that way they turn against you and don’t want to hear your empathy.

    My mother was a very empathetic person especially when it came to my daughter, but she gave in to her and gave her whatever she wanted and now that she is gone my daughter expects me to be just like her, but I can’t provide for her like mom did.

    I’ve had to put tough love into practice and it is very tough. I am very empathetic to her but that isn’t what she wants.

    1. Thanks Lisa. From your response, it sounds as though your mother gave your daughter material things, but unfortunately material things have nothing to do with empathy, in the true sense.

      I believe children need love, understanding and empathy and as you’ve rightly said Lisa, a listening ear. It’s hard when someone else other than us have input in any great length with our children, because it does change our relationship with our children to some extent. You must give your daughter what you feel is right.

      I agree that it’s important we have empathy or we should try to at least listen, even if we don’t have empathy; that part’s not easy. Not everyone will know how to empathise, but we all know how to listen, we just need to get better with our listening skills.

      I think if more of us listened, we’d probably learn how to acquire empathy; learning to feel what other people feel.

  2. I consider myself to be very empathetic, which has been one of my biggest downfalls since people will definitely take advantage of it.

    I didn’t actually know how to explain it until I saw Star Trek:NG and saw how she was actually able to pick up on what others were feeling. It’s the main reason I don’t like large crowds, since it can be so very overwhelming.

    I’ve had far too many so called friends who weren’t very empathetic to me or anyone else. This is the main reason I now have to be very careful when I choose friends, so I don’t get screwed over like I used to!

    I just have to remember to pay attention to my instincts when they’re screaming at me!

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes the more empathetic people are, the more others will take advantage. I think you’ve highlighted a real problem for many people. I’ve had the same experiences.

      It’s so important for us to make sure we have friends we can trust and rely on who don’t take advantage in this way. It’s a shame more people don’t embrace people who have the ability to be empathetic.

      I’m so sorry you had to go through the experiences you have Randy and hope that things are better for you now.

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