7 Reasons Why Empathy Is Important in a Relationship

7 Reasons Why Empathy Is Important in a Relationship


Lianne Choo

Empathy is one of the most important abilities that help people understand each other. So why is it even more important in your relationship?

It is not uncommon to disagree with another person’s views. Be it politics, religion, or something as silly as whether you should be using paper or plastic at the supermarket. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone. However, it is very important to practice empathy if you want to foster lasting relationships with those around you.

So what exactly is empathy? Not to be confused with sympathy, which is feeling sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, empathy is being able to connect with and understand the feelings of another. In a nutshell, it is putting yourself in another person’s shoes and not freaking out about it.

Whether with your friends, family members, kids, neighbors, colleagues or your favorite Starbucks barista, empathy is very important when it comes to building lasting relationships with others. The most important person you should be empathizing with is, of course, your partner. If you can’t connect with the most important person in your life, then who can you connect with?

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Stopping Miscommunication Disasters That Ruin The Moment


Darren Wilk

“How could you be so hurt?  That was not my intention! I just wish you got me and knew my heart. I feel so misunderstood”  This is a classic example of how there has been a miscommunication, with an unintended negative impact, and both people end up feeling hurt. Why does this happen so often? There are a couple of reasons. One is that miscommunication is inevitable.  John and Julie Gottman’s research has found that 70% of the great couples’ interactions don’t go as intended. It’s normal and no one should be shocked.  You are two different people, with different histories, cultures and personalities.  At any given time there is a 50% chance one of you is going to be in your  own world, not aware of your  partner’s needs. Again, normal.

Intentions and Filters

Secondly, the reason why intentions do not always have the intended impact is because of our filters. About a month ago I asked Dr. Gottman what to do about couples who get into fights over their intentions being misunderstood.  He simply drew a diagram that looks like this.  Well, to be fair his was with stick people, but the point is the same.

What often occurs is an unintentional tone or wording that changes the message. In this situation it is Homer’s positive intention that  travels through his Filter, and before it has a chance to impact Marge it must also go through her Filter.   In this case, the filter is some history of him being critical of her housekeeping. Maybe there has even been a fight where Homer may have said she is lazy or useless. Hard to imagine, I know, but it could have happened.

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