Empathy in Relationships | Ontario Association for Marriage & Family Therapy

There is a lot of confusion these days regarding the meaning of the word empathy and how empathy can be demonstrated in a relationship. Oftentimes we hear of a comparison between empathy and sympathy, which regards the latter as a less heartfelt response to a situation or to a partner’s feelings.

I am not quite sure if comparing those two words is of much use in the context of this article. There are times where one or the other is a more appropriate response to any specific situation. However, in a loving partnership, where effective communication, safety, and validation of feelings are some of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, empathic responses, rather than responses of sympathy, are decidedly more valuable.

So what is empathy?

Todd Hayen