Role of Empathy in Building a Meaningful Relationship
Relationship Self Help

Role of Empathy in Building a Meaningful Relationship


Relationship can be defined as the connection by which two people are bonded by a personalized beautiful trust. Be it a blood relation or an emotional relation. Now let’s see the case of one married couple relatable to today’s scenario.

Ayesha and Manish have been married for seven years. They are blessed with two kids. Both are working in multinational companies. As they say, they both understand each other very well, but end up fighting each day. The only topic of fighting is that Ayesha complains about Manish that he is not able to feel how she handles the home, office, kids, and her husband whereas Manish finds no reason for the wife’s complaints. He thinks that our life is going very smoothly. According to him, he comes from the office, has dinner, the kids do homework and then they go to sleep. Manish’s only complaint about Ayesha is that she has so many complaints about him despite he is doing everything that a good husband can do.

Viewing this case it shows that something is lacking in this relationship and that something is, Manish is not understanding the emotions and feelings of Ayesha. This type of misunderstanding can be explained as a lack of empathy.

Empathy is the emotional response to the perceived plight of another person. It involves the ability to match another person’s emotions. It is not the mimic like but it entails a sense of tenderheartedness toward that other person. (Snyder et al. 2021) It is also studied that the persons who are more empathetic are much happier, empathy encourages altruistic behaviour, cooperation, and forgiveness, strengthens relationships, decreases aggression & judgment, and even improves mental and physical health. (Boston, 2011)

Read More: Empathy vs Sympathy: Understanding the Difference

For maintaining a beautiful relationship some essential components are required like trust, commitment, empathy, compassion, and good communication. For developing all these components main building block is empathy. Empathy is the most important component in social bonding. Research shows that happier people tend to be less aware of negative emotions. It is very important to practice empathy as it is very much required to create greater happiness for ourselves and others. (Delvin et al., 2014)

When there is a lack of empathy, people find difficulties in understanding the other person’s emotions, perceptions, and feelings and this is the reason they find difficulty in communicating with each other. If there is less communication it leads to other problems like assumptions, arguments, misunderstanding, and misinterpretations, and thus distance in the relationships. In the above case, Manish’s lack of empathy is making Ayesha feel that her work is not acknowledged and validated and she feels that she is not supported by his husband.

Enhancing Empathy in the Relationships

If someone wants to enhance the empathy in the relationship it is to point out the similarities with another person that may not have been obvious. These similarities can be as simple as having grown up in the same part of the country, having done work of the same type, and having endured comparable hardship. It means that the partner should be open up s/he should share their feelings and emotions clearly with the partner so that it could be easier for the partner to understand the other person. In the above case, if Ayesha could be open about her emotions and anxieties to Manish in clear words, he may find it easy to understand the situation or emotions that Ayesha is facing.

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There should be clear communication and in that one should be actively listening to the persons who are in any of the relationships. Active listening can give a clear understanding and it also gives the feeling of acknowledgement and acceptance to the other person. A person should keep eye contact while communicating, paraphrasing and clarifying techniques can be used as one is to give clear understanding and later is to clarify if something is unclear about the conversation.

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With verbal communication person in a relationship should be attentive to the non-verbal cues given by the person so that the behavior or expression can be studied if the person is not feeling comfortable sharing the feelings in a verbal manner. In the above case, Manish and Ayesha should have better communication, if both persons actively listened to each other half of the problems would have been resolved and they could have had a clear understanding of each other.

It can also be like a person can imagine him/her as another person and then list all the things (physical, psychological, etc.) that you have in common with this person. Being in another person’s shoes is the only thing by which it can be felt how another person is feeling. Keeping oneself in another person’s situation can make this condition easy and understandable.

Read More: 10 Telltale Signs Your Relationship Is Making You Unhappy

In a relationship, both the partners or person should be forgivable, hence strengthening the bond of the relationship and if the person is empathetic in nature then forgiving is very easy. Empathy also is a person to forgive others (Mc Cullough et al., 1998, Mc Cullough, Worthington & Rachal, 1997; Worthington, 2005) It is important for the two persons in any type of relationship to work on developing empathy as this will result in a strong and healthy relationship.

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