Back massage? Flowers and candles? Sexual favors? Yes, all of these help keep the fires of a relationship burning. But have you ever considered the power of empathy?
Empathy in a relationship continues to fuel the stuff of really long lasting relationships because, I believe, most people desire to feel like their partner not only “gets” them but cares about how they’re feeling on a deeper level.
As far as long term relationships go, this level of attunement trumps massages, romantic gestures and sex as all of these wonderful elements have natural ends to them.
The benefit of being empathetic towards your mate is that it constantly reinforces your relationship foundation – and the payoff is enduring.
“So what is empathy?”
According to the Webster dictionary, empathy is, “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” Empathy may be a ‘given’ in your relationship and if it is, consider yourself lucky.
Many people are keenly aware of the lack of empathy from their partners. I know this because I have worked with many couples who report low levels of empathy in their relationships – which has usually morphed into high levels of resentment.
I’ve found that the more successful couples have figured out that being tuned into each other on this level can only bring them closer. They check in with each other more (emotionally), are good listeners and tune in well to the one another’s needs. Partners who are empathetic to each other tend to notice more readily when something is bothering the other and be open for discussion about whatever is the matter. This creates an environment where they both feel cared for.
I think we all can agree that we all want to feel cared for by the people that matter the most to us.
“What are some ways to show my partner empathy?”
An easy way is to be a good listener. Then you take that up a notch and see if you can put yourself in their shoes in how they might be feeling about whatever situation they’re talking about.
For example, your partner says, “I felt really hurt when you didn’t call me back like you said you would.” An empathetic response would be something like, “I’m so sorry – I totally forgot. I can completely understand why you’d be disappointed.” An example of a response lacking empathy would look this way, “Why are you always so sensitive? It’s no big deal.” Ouch.
I think most people are empathetic by nature but I suspect we simply forget. If you find yourself hitting a speed bump with your partner, remember these words about the power of empathy. It’s a wise investment in the future of a long lasting, healthy and loving relationship.