During those glorious days of falling in love, it’s easy to “be there” for your significant other, isn’t it? We don’t lack examples of empathy. But, how to show empathy after the honeymoon phase is over? Let’s see some empathy examples.
We’re all eyes and ears, and a whole lot of everything else when it comes time for them to open up and maybe even get a little vulnerable. In this twitterpated stage – I’m forever indebted to Bambi for that cute word – it’s almost impossible to not show up for your sweetheart.
Then, we all know what happens, don’t we? As the weeks turn into months, and months into years, it gets more challenging to be an empath and to care about their concerns. Why? Because by this point, you’ve seen it a hundred times, and everything’s familiar, and yes, maybe even a little annoying.
Once the honeymoon stage is over, instead of batting your eyes, you probably roll them instead. And if this is where you’re at, don’t worry. You’re not a bad person. In fact, you’re pretty much average. But don’t you want an exceptional relationship? If you do, then you just need to learn how to keep the empathy alive for weeks, months and yes, even years into your relationship. Let’s first define empathy and check some empathy examples.
Empathy examples: What is Empathy?
But why is empathy so important in relationships? And what is it exactly? This might seem like a no-brainer question, but let’s put everybody on the same page and start with a basic definition, shall we? Empathy is the ability to feel and emotionally understand what another person is experiencing and going through. It’s the ability to understand someone else’s emotions. It’s basically being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the situation from their point of view.
You might have noticed that this can be easier when you relate to those with the same gender as you. For example, as a woman, if you’re super excited about the new stiletto’s you found online, chances are your girlfriend will be better suited to share in your excitement than your boyfriend. The same is true for all those gorgeous men in your life, too. They might talk for hours (or, at least it will seem that way) about how they managed to fix that carborator thing in the car, and you just don’t see what the big deal is, because 1) you don’t get mechanics, and 2) as long as the car is the right color, you’re fine.
Now, obviously, these are generalizations and perhaps some people would say they’re a bit sexist. And they’re right, because of course, there are men who appreciate good style, and there are women who are genuinely interested in what’s under the hood instead of what’s in the trunk.
These examples of are only meant to show that it’s more difficult to empathize with someone if you don’t share common experiences, or when you don’t process emotions in the same way. And this doesn’t just apply to heterosexual relationships. It holds true for homosexual couples, too; your experiences of the world will be different, but just not from the point of view of gender.
Empathetic Partner: How to Show Empathy?
Irrespective of why it’s challenging to be empathetic – whether it’s because you’re in a long term relationship, or gender, or even both – it’s so important to master your empathy skills in order to keep your love life going strong. Here’s why.
First of all, if you don’t know how to show empathy, you’ll come off cold, callous, uncaring, and plenty of other things (which I won’t include here for obvious reasons!). Nobody wants to be thought of as uncaring and inconsiderate. But even more importantly than outward appearances, if you don’t show empathy, you pass up an opportunity to really connect with your partner on an intimate level. And yes, intimacy extends far outside the bedroom. In fact, physical intimacy is easier to master than emotional intimacy, which is why it’s well worth the effort to ace your empathy game.
Empathy allows you to understand others, and to be understood in return. Being empathetic shows that you value and respect the other person, and when you listen to your partner, you teach them two invaluable lessons. First, that you’re willing to be there for them emotionally. Second, that they’re safe with you and that they can open up to you. Empathy helps foster trust, which is absolutely fundamental to every healthy and functional relationship. It’s the gold when it comes to meaningful friendship, isn’t it?
Related Article: Importance and Benefits of Practising Empathy in Everyday Life
Examples of Empathy: How to be an Awesome Partner
Without a doubt, we could easily come up with a long list of suggestions, all geared toward becoming more empathatic, but let’s just start with three examples of empathy that are easy to remember. What’s the point of good examples if you can’t remember them? Another great thing about these tips is that they’re also competely doable. So, the next time an opportunity arises for you to be empathetic, there’s no excuses! And you’ll surprise your partner with your attentive and caring approach.
1. How to Show Empathy by Listening
Let’s start our examples of empathy list with an absolute no-brainer. This simple action is a powerful one. This is not the type of listening that throws in an “Uh huh” every couple sentences, or that interjects solutions and trite cliches just to “help”. This is mindful listening, where you simply witness everything you hear and see without passing judgment. In this way, you can actually listen to understand, instead of listening to respond and react, which is what listening has boiled down to in so many relationships.
2. Remember the Emotion not the Experience
Let’s take a look at one of the most important, everyday examples of empathy. Maybe you and your girlfriend are planning a dinner party tonight with your friends, and you come home to find her tearing up and freaking out because she’s messed up the hollandaise sauce, and her hair’s not done yet, and the guests are arriving in any minute. You might look at that whole scenario and think, “It’s not that big of a deal,” and from this very objective standpoint, you’d be right: these things are not major life crisis. However, right then, in that moment, she’s feeling overwelmed, under pressure and afraid that she’ll miss the deadline.
You may not shed tears over a dinner party, but you can certainly relate to feeling overwhelmed, stressed and dissapointed if you can’t get the job done in time.
And that’s what you should focus on: the mutual emotional experience, not the contextual situation. You might not freak out over the same things, but you do both freak out sometimes, and it’s important to acknowledge and validate these very real emotions with empathy and non-judgment.
3. Ask Questions
Empathy examples list would not be complete without the classic Ask Questions example. If it’s hard to tap into the emotional state of your partner, don’t take the easy way out and give up on them or yourself. Instead, look at it as an opportunity engage by asking open ended questions. That is, ask questions that require more than a quick and easy “Yes” or “No”. Try to ask questions that will give you clues about why they feel the way they do. What makes them tick? What makes them crack? This can help you better understand their values, priorities and motivations. Then, you’ll continue to grow in empathy, too.
Now go and create your own empathy examples
Trying just one, or all three of these examples of empathy and you will discover they can definitely help you up your empathy game. And the benefits won’t stop there because these changes will also help you create greater trust and more intimacy in your relationship. So, go ahead and try and create your own empathy examples. You’ll be glad you did.