Love and Empathy


Empathy is another agent that binds a loving relationship together. Empathy can be both healthy and destructive for a relationship. Empathy allows us to form a deeper more fulfilling emotional bond with our partner. Empathy can be defined as the ability to feel and experience another’s emotions, moods or attitude within our own body as though it were our own feelings and sensations. It is sort of like compassion for another person, only empathy takes understanding and compassion to a whole new level. Empathy gives you an actual physical experience in your own body. This can be compared to watching your partner give birth. You can almost experience and feel every muscle and every pain in her body as if it were your own. This constitutes the ultimate act of love and complete surrender and can be emotionally rewarding.

Empathy can be said to be the building block of emotional closeness in a relationship. It is the foundation of the whole idea of “we” rather than just the “I” or even “you”. Less stressed is caused if you sense your partner feels how it is for you. You also feel closer and more trusting as well as more inclined to return empathy. Fundamentally, empathy is a skill that must be learned and honed and you can get better at it over time. Not only will getting better at it help your relationship, but it will also help with your parenting skills as well.

Once again, empathy is the ability to feel what one another are feeling. Compassion is deeply caring about one’s own pain as well as your partner’s pain. These two concepts are very inter-related in a relationship. People are born with compassion and empathy but as a child, if they are not shown either, they will tend to put up a wall and create boundaries. This child may even shut down when a parent shows compassion or empathy for others but not for themselves and ends up being walked on or potentially abused because of it.
Once one partner shuts down their empathy and compassion, they can do a great deal of harm to the other partner. This can include emotional disrespect or even abusive or physical violence. It is only when we feel one another’s feelings that we care about the effects our behavior has on our partner. It is through our empathy that we feel the connectedness with our partner and cannot and will not do them harm.

At times, both partners tend to shut down their compassion to conflict and then their conflicts are rarely resolved satisfactorily. One partner sometimes shows more empathy and compassion than the other partner, especially during conflict causing even more difficulties. If one person is able to maintain his or her compassion for the partner even when angry, but the other person shuts down, this creates an imbalance in the relationship. The more empathetic partner may end up feeling abused by the situation and may also be the one who usually takes steps to remedy the situation. Another problem faced in the relationship is when one partner deeply cares about the other person’s happiness and freedom, but the other partner, due to shutting down, does not support the other’s happiness. This can cause tremendous stress in the relationship as well as resentment between the two people.

It is only when both individuals can stay open to empathy, both for themselves and for others, even when they are angry or upset, that they can reliably care for themselves or others. Because caring ceases to exist without empathy or compassion, the partner on the non-receiving end of this may feel as if they are walking on eggshells.

I must point out that while bringing empathy and compassion to a relationship, you must also respect yourself enough to bring that same compassion and empathy to within yourself. You definitely need to make sure that the empathy and compassion you have for others does not mean you place yourself in such a vulnerable state to allow your partner to take advantage or to abuse and disrespect you in any way.

In closing, relationships achieve growth and balance when both partners are intent on developing empathy and compassion for themselves and for each other. Without empathy and compassion, there is no true intent to learn. Remember, it is only the one with an open mind that will accept how to learn to maintain empathy and compassion for both oneself and others.


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