Ways To Be More Empathetic Towards Your Partner

Having empathy is incredibly important if you are in a committed relationship. When you don't have empathy for your partner or the things they are going through, you come across as being cold, callous, and heartless. Headspace explains that having empathy is showing an understanding of another person's perspectives and feelings through compassion. A lack of empathy leads to a blockage between you and your partner. It also makes it harder for you to enjoy a healthy relationship with them. Mind Maven notes that when you're empathizing with another person, you're doing your best to experience their emotions with them so they don't feel alone. 


Some of the most common times to show empathy toward your partner is if they're dealing with heartbreak, frustration, or they are mourning a loss of a loved one. There's a difference between empathy and sympathy, although the words sound the same and belong in the same vocabulary family. Having sympathy varies because it means that you're pitying another person for their situation. Empathy means you're attempting to feel what they're feeling on a deeper level. 

If you want your relationship with your partner to flourish, mastering what it truly means to be empathetic is one of the best things you can do.

Refrain from being judgmental

When your partner is opening up to you about something, it's your job to refrain from being judgmental. The more judgmental you are, the more at risk you are of having them shut down and close off from you forever. Zen Habits explains that you can start being less judgmental by acknowledging the fact that making judgments creates a division between you and your partner. Consider how horrible it would feel to be judged in the same way that you are judging your partner before you continue with a negative thought process. 


TCK Publishing notes that you can be less judgmental by becoming more self-aware and "observing your thoughts." As soon as you notice a negative thought floating into your mind about what your partner is telling you, you need to be mindful by recognizing those thoughts and asking yourself why you feel the need to judge your partner in the first place. Thinking things like "If I were my partner, I wouldn't do this or that" or "I really don't think my partner should be doing x, y, and z" are some of the judgmental thoughts you might catch before they worsen.

Put yourself in their shoes

Empathy is easily accomplished if you're willing to put yourself in someone else's shoes. In other words, try to imagine what it would feel like to live their life and deal with their present circumstances. If you are willing to do this for your partner, it will help them feel heard, understood, and loved. Mental Health Connecticut describes the old saying: "Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes." That saying is a commonly recited piece of wisdom that dates back to Cherokee origins. 


The truth is that this phrase makes universal sense to just about anyone who hears it. Psychology Today notes that a truly empathetic individual is able to analyze two opposing positions at the same time while still maintaining the ability to think for themselves. In other words, you can keep your own opinions while also putting yourself in your partner's shoes to better understand how they are feeling. Once you've acknowledged what circumstances might feel like from your partner's perspective, you might notice your opinions start to shift and change naturally.

Be a good listener

Being empathetic in your relationship means that you should prioritize being a good listener. If your partner feels heard, it likely means that your empathy is showing through. Fairy God Boss notes how frustrating it is to strike up a conversation with someone who is continually staring at their phone or only giving you part of their attention. 


Harvard Business Review explains the best listeners never speak when others are talking, show facial expressions, use small verbal cues like "hum" and "right," and are able to repeat what others have said to them verbatim. If being a good listener is something you struggle with, you can improve this skill as you strengthen your levels of empathy. Someone who is in dire need of an empathetic partner probably has a lot to say and genuinely needs a listening ear.

Offer solutions to their problem

Sometimes when you're being empathetic with your partner, all they need is a listening ear without any unsolicited advice. However, if your partner is coming to you in need of suggestions for how they can make their situation better, the most helpful thing you can do for them is to offer solutions to their problem. Brian Tracy International explains you can start by helping them identify the issue and its root cause, understand every angle of the problem, and find solutions to the issue as quickly as possible. 


From there, you can both start evaluating the options before you help them act on the idea that makes the most sense. Reach Out explains that certain people can feel totally overwhelmed with a problem they might be facing. You can alleviate some of the pressure your partner is feeling by helping them sort through the ways they can solve their issue. Your empathetic side will show through as you prove to your partner that you're willing to help them think about ways to make things better.

Be willing to lift some weight off their shoulders

If you're willing to take on some of your partner's responsibilities, it's one of the best ways that you can be empathetic toward them. Couples Success explains that your stressed out partner might be dealing with anxiety over the fact that their daily routine has been thrown off based on what they're going through. Lighten their load by offering to do some of the chores that they would typically do. 


The Gary Thomas site explains that when you help take on the burden of your partner, you ensure they don't feel like they're suffering alone. If your partner is usually the one who takes out the trash, does the dishes, the laundry, makes the bed, or handles certain things around the house, your empathy will show through if you help them out with some of those obligations when they need emotional support. Lightening your partner's load will mentally bring them harmony and peace in the midst of their personal chaos.

Plan a thoughtful date or activity for them

Keep in mind that planning a thoughtful date or activity for your partner will remind them that you love them in tough moments when they need to be reminded the most. One of the most empathetic things you can do is planning something fun, romantic, or festive that will take their mind off of what they're dealing with. The Knot explains you can invite them out to karaoke, a picnic lunch, pottery making class, an amusement park, or a shopping spree. If they have some pent up angst or anger, you might consider taking them to an ax throwing outing (yup, there are companies that offer this!) to help them release some of their negative emotions. 


If you're leaning toward date night ideas that are a little more lovey-dovey, booking a spa day, taking a wine tasting tour, or renting a rowboat are a few great ideas. Created With Love notes you can start planning the perfect date for your partner by narrowing down your ideas, committing to a specific date on the calendar, and creating the ideal itinerary. You might want to keep the weather and other logistics in mind, including whether or not you need a babysitter. Don't worry about sticking to a written plan if your partner prefers things to be a little more spontaneous.

Let them open up when they're ready

A big mistake to avoid when trying to become more empathetic is forcing your partner to talk about things before they're ready. You can show them just how empathetic you are by waiting patiently for them to open up to you so they have the chance to feel more deeply connected to you. Better Humans explains that a true connection between partners takes place when you see and accept each other for who you are, including things you or they might be ashamed of. 


MBG Relationships notes that your partner might already be closed off to you because they don't feel emotionally safe talking about heavy subjects. This could stem from past trauma they've accumulated from negative interactions with their parents, authoritative figures, or former romantic partners. Regardless of where their trauma comes from, you still need to be patient with them as they figure out how to bring up certain topics in conversation with you. Pressuring your partner to open up about things before they are ready can push them deeper into an emotional hole.

Understand that relationships aren't always 50/50

When you're being truly empathetic, you understand that relationships aren't always perfectly 50-50. Pure Love Quotes explains that on certain days, your partner might struggle. It's up to you to take on more of the ratio and possibly split things 80-20 because they need you to step up in that way. Hey Simply notes that it's unreasonable to expect that your relationship will always be a perfect example of 50-50 romance. 


While you might strive for an equally and mutually beneficial partnership, it never tends to play out that way in reality. Knowing that your partner is going through a hardship means it might be time for you to take on more responsibilities in the relationship. Although it may feel imbalanced, it should never feel unfair because your love for your partner should outweigh potential feelings of resentment or annoyance. When you are truly in love with someone, letting go of the idea of a perfect 50-50 split is vital if you want to show true empathy.

Be forgiving

Sometimes, the best way to show empathy is to be forgiving toward your partner. If they choose to open up to you about something that makes them feel ashamed or embarrassed, you wouldn't want to pile onto their negative experience by making them feel worse. Show them that they can be forgiven for anything they've done through your actions and your responses.


Greater Good Science Center notes that, "Forgiveness is a process with many steps that often proceeds in a non-linear fashion." It's not about making excuses for your partner's wrongdoing, but instead, it's about embracing what happened and moving forward as a team. When you show forgiveness toward your partner, you aren't pretending like their mistake never happened because it's still important for them to take responsibility. 

You must do your best to resist the urge to hold a grudge (via the Mayo Clinic). Grudge holding leads to anger and bitterness in your relationship, the inability to enjoy the bliss of the present moment, depression, irritability, and anxiety. It might even make you feel at odds with yourself when it comes to your spirituality because grudges cause you to lose out on enriching connections with the people you love most. As you forgive your partner, your empathy for them becomes abundantly clear.


Understand your partner's healing process timeline

Everyone deals with their own personal healing process after going through something difficult. When you are dealing with heartache, you can probably guess how frustrating it would be for someone to pressure you to speed up your process. Healing from something can take a week, a month, or even a year or longer. Since each person reacts to situations differently, you have to be patient and understanding about the healing path your partner is on.


Good Therapy explains that grief is a huge part of life that most people will have to face at one point or another. When you are intimately involved with someone who is dealing with their own personal grief, it can leave you feeling confused and lonely. You might be unsure how to be there for your partner in a way that makes them feel supported without overwhelming them with your presence. You might miss what their energy and attitude was like before grief suddenly struck them and changed their life forever.

According to Better Up, the most important factor to take note of in this scenario is how understanding you can be with them during their healing journey. If you're prone to impatience, know that patience can be developed and learned. Being empathetic means being gentle with your partner while they're in their most fragile state, no matter how long it might take them to recover.


Share an uplifting movie, podcast, song, or book with them

There's no reason to let your partner suffer in sadness without offering some uplifting options that might raise their mood. If your partner seems resistant to the idea of checking out brand new movies, podcasts, songs, or books, don't be overly pushy with them about your agenda. If they give you any indication that they'd be open to suggestion, however, you can offer some ideas that could possibly improve their life on an emotional level — or at least make them feel a little better in the moment. 


Happify explains there are certain podcasts that will boost one's mood on any given day. Your partner could enjoy listening to "Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel," "10% Happier with Dan Harris," "Better Life Lab," and "Happier with Gretchen Rubin." These podcasts leave the listener feeling better and more energetic than they were when they first sat down to press the play button.

According to Parade, some of the mood-boosting movies you could suggest include "Paddington" from 2014, "Forrest Gump" from 1994, and "Hustle" from 2022. Watching a movie that is filled with sweet characters and inspirational plot lines takes viewers away from the stress of reality for a little while. Sharing something that could temporarily distract your partner from their woes is a sign of your heartfelt empathy in action.


Act on their love language

Whether your partner is in dire need of empathetic love or not, doting on them with their "love language" is still absolutely necessary for a long-lasting relationship. Showing your partner empathy by loving them in the way they appreciate the most is a fast way to achieve closeness and unity with your partner. It's your way of showing them that you've noticed what they need from you and you're willing to make it happen.


5 Love Languages explains that love languages to consider are acts of service, quality time, gift giving, physical touch, and words of affirmation. Each one is important, and most people lean toward more than one love language since they tend to overlap. Recognizing your partner's love language will help you both connect on a deeper level. You can easily decipher the way they want to be loved based on the way they express their love the most.

According to The Family Centre, acts of service includes doing favors or chores for your partner without having to be prompted, reminded, or asked. Quality time includes spending uninterrupted chunks of time with your partner without anything distracting you or stealing your attention. Gift giving includes buying thoughtful mementos and trinkets for your partner throughout the year, even when there isn't a holiday to celebrate. Physical touch includes cuddles, hand holding, and all forms of touchy-feely affection. Words of affirmation includes praising your partner for their wins, complimenting them, sending them thoughtful texts, and reminding them that you love them through conversation.


Introduce them to meditative practices that inspire healing

Your partner might already be aware of meditative practices that can help them feel more grounded and calm — but if they're not aware, now is your chance to teach them something new. It's also an opportunity for you to become more familiar with activities that can benefit you in your own life.


Headspace explains that there are many forms of meditation. Each is helpful in its own way when it comes to aiding the healing journey. Some of the meditation practices on their list include guided and unguided meditation, focused attention, body scan, visualization, resting awareness, reflection, and noting. "We 'note' the thought or feeling to restore awareness, create a bit of space, as a way of letting go, and to learn more about our thought patterns, tendencies, and conditioning." There are tons of free tutorials that teach these forms on video-sharing apps like YouTube and TikTok.

According to Healthline, other meditative practices such as yoga, EFT tapping, breath work, mantra repetition, and transcendental relaxation can help a sad person feel more uplifted and supported. Your partner may not know how much a simple activity involving their breathing or mindset can change their life. You can showcase your empathy by opening their eyes (and heart) to natural modes of emotional healing.