April 30, 2019

How Empathy Improves our Relationships—All of Them.


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No two humans are exactly alike.

From different upbringings, experiences, genetics, personalities, and dispositions, it’s unlikely for anyone to walk through life without conflicting with someone else’s beliefs. Disagreements are inevitable.

Since human connection is so important to our well-being, how do we resolve human conflicts healthily, in order to have strong, long-lasting relationships?

By continuing to develop our ability to empathize. By learning how to put ourselves in others’ shoes to better understand their situations and feelings.

Through empathy, we can better recognize how to resolve conflicts. Without this skill, simple conflicts can quickly turn into complicated battles.

It is important to note, however, that empathy in toxic relationships can be quite dangerous. Lots of toxic people love to abuse empathy in order to manipulate. Empathy is vital for healthy relationships and should be practiced by both sides of the relationship, never just one.  

Assuming you’re not in a relationship with a manipulative person who can abuse your compassion, how can empathy improve your relationship?

Creates Healthy Conflicts

Since arguing is inevitable in every relationship, it’s important to know how to disagree with maturity and respect, so that simple arguments don’t turn into the demise of the relationship. Empathy plays a huge role in this, as it teaches patience and compassion.

Instead of losing our temper and saying things that will probably be offensive right away, having empathy can teach us to stop, think about their perspective, and react with less intensity so we can calmly explain why we disagree. Patience is key.

Additionally, instead of automatically attacking their viewpoint, having empathy can teach us to be compassionate about their thinking. Instead of immediately telling them they’re wrong, we’re able to put ourselves in their shoes, see what they see, see why they see it, and react with an understanding and open-minded reply.

You’re showing your respect by not tearing down their views in an insulting and ignorant way. Without respect, the relationship will lack trust, self-expression, and safety, because contempt has made its way to the forefront. If contempt exists and someone does not feel emotionally safe in their relationship, then it will easily break apart.

All in all, empathy improves conflicts because it fosters maturity, patience, compassion, and, most importantly, respect. Without empathy in arguments, it easily turns into miscommunication outrages, because we’re not taking the time to understand or put ourselves into the other’s point of view.

Fosters More Emotional Connection

As we’re empathizing, we’re fostering a deeper emotional connection in our relationship because we’re learning to understand the other at a more intimate level.

We learn why they are the way they are. We learn what makes them them. We learn their triggers, their needs, their wants, their boundaries, and so on.

With this information, we can determine how much we should be giving and taking. For example, maybe you feel like showering them with love and affection all the time, but sometimes they need their space. You learn to respect it, because you know why they need it.

Overall, empathy nurtures understanding. With understanding, comes feelings of safety, security, acceptance, and satisfaction with your relationship, contributing to stronger emotional connections.  

“It’s wonderful to be loved, but it’s profound to be understood.” ~ Ellen Degeneres

Encourages Self-Reflection

A relationship comes with more than one person involved, which means it’s never all about you.

When we learn to see our relationship through the other person’s eyes, we can see how our actions directly affect them. We see the impact we have on them, which encourages us to work on our flaws.

Whether it’s being lazy about the dishes or yelling at them after a bad day at work, we’re able to recognize our wrongs and how they negatively affect the other person, inspiring personal development.

Bottom Line

In the end, it’s important to note just how much of an impact empathy can have on a relationship.

From cultivating healthy conflicts and hard discussions to creating stronger emotional connections to instigating personal growth, it’s something that can be applied to all types of relationships, not just the romantic ones.

Empathy is vital for deeper, more understanding human connections, and human connections are vital for a healthy, happy mind.

It’s a life-changer. 

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