Love Living, Quit Hating, Everyone Relating

Archive for the ‘Emotions’ Category

Empathy & Sympathy Revisited

In Emotions, Love, Relationships on February 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm

written by Swag

Homeless man, Tokyo.

Image via Wikipedia


Situation: Seeing a homeless person that is asking for money on the street while in the dead of winter.

Reaction: You think to yourself. “Wow, I would hate to be in their situation.” You understand the magnitude of the situation in terms of suffering, but you understand it from your own perspective.

Sympathy is the art of understanding the circumstances of someone else’s pain from your own perspective. You are outside looking in, seeing how the pain came to be and realizing its magnitude for the person suffering through it.

Sympathy involves understanding someone’s situation and then imagining your own thoughts, feelings, and actions during those particular circumstances. You can tell when you are sympathizing because most of your thoughts/statements will start with “If that were me…” or ‘if I were in that situation…”


Adult Simba from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

Image via Wikipedia


Situation: Mufasa (Simba’s father in the Lion King) falls off a cliff and perishes.

Reaction: You shed a few tears because you understand the feeling of intense loss.

People mistake sympathy with empathy because they unconsciously parallel the thought of being in someone’s situation with the thought actually being that person while in a particular situation.

If  sympathy is the art of understanding someone’s circumstances, then empathy is the art of understanding someone’s pain. Their emotions and feelings become real as you experience them as your own.

In a relationship, empathy is of much more use than sympathy. When you only sympathize with your partner’s struggles, you end up trying to impose your own will and logic on the situation. It’s a subtle invalidation of their feelings. Sympathy is a relationship killer because it belittles and overlooks the emotions behind the circumstances.

Empathy on the other hand, promotes forgiveness, acceptance and appreciation, all of which help to nourish a relationship. Learn to understand your partners emotions by experiencing them as they have. Appreciating your partner’s heart makes loving him or her that much easier.


Men being vulnerable

In Emotions, Intimacy, Relationships on October 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

written by Swag  

There is something about intimate relationships that scares the hell out of most men. I read an article the other day that briefly touched on the need for men to be more vulnerable with their partners. Actually, the author was speaking on the male desire to be himself in a relationship. Men aren’t really programmed to want to be vulnerable. It’s viewed as a weakness and it never seems to have any advantages. Personally, I think that being vulnerable with my girl makes me more secure with myself. I am less worried about being Superman and more focused on just being a man.  


Having someone who you believe always has your best interest in mind can be very healing, if you allow it to be. The only problem is, many times, relationships don’t provide the opportunity to be intimately vulnerable for men.  

Laughing couple.

Image via Wikipedia


I know my female readers are probably shrieking right now.  

“Of course we provide the opportunities to be vulnerable.”  

“We would love for them to talk about their feelings.”  

While this may seem like it’s the case, when a man is truly trusting of his partner (which equates to being vulnerable and secure at the same time), he is able to tell her pretty much everything, given his communication is on par.  

If I can’t be vulnerably honest with you, then I do not believe I am on secure footing in our relationship and on some level I do not trust you. I do not believe you will accept me for who I am.  

If you want your partner to be vulnerable with you. If you want your partner to know he can be himself and not just a forced idea, then take note:  

I may not have the vocabulary. If you believe that I should be able to interpret your needs by the aura you give off, then bear with me as I figure out a better way to tell you how I feel than a grunt or shrug. Since I don’t talk about my feelings as much as you, I may not be as adept at labeling them.  

Stop divulging so much so early on. Just because you tell me everything about yourself doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same. Leave a little mystery and let the intimate details flow more organically. In your rush to have me accept everything about you, I may have interpreted some things you told me as ways I think you won’t accept me. For every secret you tell me without us being securely in a relationship, there is a chance I’m putting a personal detail about into the “Can’t tell her that” bucket. I know it’s an assumption, but since I don’t know you well enough to know otherwise, that’s exactly what I going to do right now…assume.  

Get me drunk. I kid, of course, but a little loose juice never hurt. If you want to know more about me, make me a nice strong drink and ask questions….SLOWLY! Wait for your concoction to work its magic before you start asking about my relationship with my pops. Also, time your investigation. Halftime, during Monday Night Football, is not the proper time to have this conversation (and YES, I will be watching Sportscenter afterwards to catch the highlights of the game I just watched).  

Let me be ultra-direct every once in a while. Sometimes, I just want to tell it exactly as I think it. Yes, there is a such thing as having tact and no, my intentions are never to hurt or demean, but I can feel stifled when I have to censor my words. If you trust that your partner cares for you, then you have to be able to take a little stinger every now and again. When he knows he doesn’t have to pull his verbal punches (given they are genuine and not spiteful) then the more honest, vulnerable and trusting he will become overall. Relationships don’t work unless there is a freedom to discuss the issues that may hurt, yet help, our partners.  

Learn to get around the guy version of the story. Sometimes, before my girlfriend asks me a question, she will prefix it with “Give me the girl version.”  This means she wants details and feelings and descriptions and perspective and ambiance and weather and mood and verbatim quotes and….ARRRGGHHH!!!. Sometimes I don’t know how to do that so the guy version still comes out. If this happens with your partner, learn to ask the right questions. More likely than not, he will give you something  you can dig a little deeper on. Asking him immediately about what you want to know may solicit an “I don’t know” response, so learn to ask him about what he would like to expound upon before delving further.  

I am probably out of practice. Guys may not want to but they certainly need to vent a bit about what affects them.  The truth is, though, most men are out of practice. They are not used to leaning on others for emotional support. It’s not hard to see when your partner is stressed, so make sure to take note of the non-verbal cues he gives off. If he looks tired grab him a beer, let him unwind, non-verbally communicate to him that you have his back without pressuring him to open up (this just amounts to nothing but more pressure). It may make him more inclined to actually talk to you when he has relaxed a little. One of the best things about my girlfriend is her ability to know when not to say anything and let me cool off.  

Just because the world wants to jam men into a tiny, simplistic box, it doesn’t mean they are really that simple. All humans have emotions and every human finds the best way for them to express those emotions. Take a week and observe how your man really works and use some of that information to create better suited opportunities for him to become more vulnerable with you. Neither you or him should expect the other person to express themselves as the other would. If you wanted to date someone exactly like yourself, you would carry a full length mirror around everywhere. It’s not that men can’t communicate their vulnerabilities, it’s that they communicate them in a different manner.  


Just Stop It!! – Over Invested, Emotionally

In Emotions on July 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

You met him on the train. Tall, charismatic and good-looking. He chatted you up, got your phone number and walks away, leaving you with butterflies in your stomach.

You see her at Starbucks. She’s gorgeous, has a ridiculous smile and likes all your favorite music. She gives you her email address and leaves you in a daze.

He never calls and she never responds. You wonder what did I do wrong. What could I have done differently? You spend all day weighing the what-ifs and why-nots.

STOP IT!! Stop over investing your emotions. It’s about reasonable expectations – This isn’t a fairytale. In real life people have jobs and priorities and significant others. The person may just be busy or — take a deep breath —  uninterested.

Relationships are like banks and meeting someone is like seeing a commercial for that bank. Too many times we think a chance encounter equates to opening up a new account, that gives $50 and a free toaster.

Think about it. When you see an advertisement on television for Capital One, does that make you run out, open a new account and stuff it full of money. Of course not, so stop investing your emotions into every commercial that comes along. Wait for some evidence that the investment is worthwhile.

Meeting someone for the first time shouldn’t warrant that much thought at first. In fact go out and give your number to or get a number from someone else (which ever you prefer). Having options helps to stop you from worrying too much about one particular person. Having options will keep that imagination from running wild.



Bag Lady

In Emotions, Relationships on July 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm

He was the man of you dreams and broke your heart. Or maybe he wasn’t but your ego is still bruised from a break up. You may be a bit depressed and start spending your weekends at home, eating cookie dough ice cream in bed, watching re-runs of Keepin Up with the Kardashians (okay yes ladies I have been there). Your girls have convinced you to a night out on the town. Maybe during some drinking, some dancing, and straight up foolishness, you meet someone and exchange numbers. Weeks later you are hanging out with him on a regular basis.

Things are going great and new dude is everything your ex wasn’t. He wants to take things more seriously so this is the perfect time to get into a relationship that seems to have good potential right?


No matter how good this guy makes you feel and how much less you think of your ex, you must ask yourself if you are completely ready to give your heart away again.

My experience has shown that too many girls jump into new relationships before the wounds of the previous ones have healed. They want so quickly to get over “what’s-his-name” that they find a new “what’s-his-name” to take his spot thinking this is the way to move on. *This is a bit different than a “Time Filler” which I will discuss in an upcoming post*

Jumping into a new relationship while still dealing with insecurities from the last is just a set up for failure.

Not only are you being unfair to the new person you are dating (because part of you is still focused on what went wrong with your ex), you are being unfair to yourself. If you are still bitter about what happened with the ex then a new relationship is not the solution.

Ladies, no matter how good the new guy is for you, give yourself time to get over your past heartbreak.  There is no set amount of time it takes to get over a relationship but luckily for us we have a thing we like to ignore called intuition to help us along the way. If you feel pressured by new dude to get into a relationship with him before you are ready, then maybe he isn’t the one for you.

Listen to your intuition, and it will be beneficial in the end. One key to a successful relationship is timing, and both parties must be ready to open their heart to each other in order to thrive as a couple. So let go of your baggage, roll-ons, and duffle bags before boarding the plane to love (you can only keep a small purse with you at most!).


%d bloggers like this: