Limitations of Empathy

Core Vulnerability


Empathy is a humane quality that is beneficial to all parties in most social contexts. But in intimate relationships, especially those that have suffered damage, empathy is woefully inadequate.


Empathy is identification with what another person is feeling. (“I feel your pain,” was a hallmark of empathy, before it was relegated to political satire.) We empathize with our partners based on our ability to identify with what they feel. Here’s why this is a serious limitation following relationship damage. You and your partner probably will not understand what support you each want during recovery, because you will most likely have a different core vulnerability, which will require different kinds of support.


by Steven Stosny