Empathizing With Your Partner

Empathy is an essential aspect of building connection and emotional intimacy with your partner. Empathy refers to the ability to share in another person’s emotional experience, and it is different from sympathy, which means to recognize another person’s feelings. The key difference is that with empathy, you are actually entering into the emotional experience of the other person, whereas sympathy is cognitive acknowledgement of their feelings. Providing empathy to your partner will help them to feel supported and will also help to increase your emotional connection.

There is no one-size-fits-all way to be an empathetic partner, so give yourself permission to learn and grow as you strengthen this ability. Active listening is one of the main components of empathy. Instead of listening to respond, focus on listening to understand. Try to tune in fully to what your partner is saying and feel free to ask clarifying questions when needed. By making listening a priority, you can show your partner that you genuinely care about what they have to say and what they are feeling. Don’t worry about offering solutions or giving advice, just focus on trying to understand your partner’s emotional experience. By meeting your partner where they are at emotionally, you can show them that you are here for them and they will appreciate your willingness to share in their experience.

If you’re not sure how to best support your partner, that’s okay! You can ask your partner directly, such as by saying: how can I best support you right now? What do you need from me? How can I be here for you? The more you practice expressing empathy, the more comfortable you will become and the more you and your partner can share moments of emotional connection.

To learn more about building empathy in your relationship, reach out to one of our licensed counselors today here.