1. Why it is Getting Harder to Find That Special One

    February 28, 2014

    Why it is Getting Harder to Find That Special One

    We all have meaningful relationships in our lives or at least we’ve had that experience (parents, friends, family, and love). But as we grow older, meaningful relationships seem harder to find. How can we connect deeply to someone and not just have relationships that scrap the surface of meaningful? Where can we find them and how will you know you’ve met someone worth keeping around?

    We used to have no filters.

    And got hurt over and over. So we developed walls to protect us from others. But sometimes those same walls that are meant to protect keep others away. My bottom line is, you’re going to have to open up to someone once in a while.  But you should be prepared to recognize the ones that are going to be worthwhile opening up to.

    In a crowd and still all alone.

    This has got to be one of the worst feelings to have. Of being alone in spite of being surrounded by other human beings. But those same people don’t mean anything to you neither do you mean anything to them. They need to know you to care and love you. And as psychologists like John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and others have pointed out attachment to other human beings is one of our most primal needs and essential to our mental health and adaptation. A lot of our mental health issues arise from a lack of attachment and meaningful relationships in our lives. We cannot forget we are social beings and need face-to-face contact.

    Are you in meaningful and fulfilling relationships?

    I’ll give a few clues on what are the components of a meaningful relationship. If you’re involved in love and friendship relationships that have components like:

    • Respect. Do your friends call to check up on you? They don’t leaving waiting for hours? Do they listen when you talk?
    • Time investment. Are the people around you making the effort to spend time with you? Even if they’re far away they still seem close by (because they call or send e-mails or texts)?
    • Mutual feelings and caring. Does that person reply to your feelings in the same way? Do they empathize with you?
    • A feeling deep connection. Do you feel like that person means a lot to you? Do you have a history together and memories you wouldn’t trade for anything?
    • Understanding. Does that person make the effort to understand you even if they don’t agree with you?

    If you checked yes in all components, congratulations! If you’re not involved in meaningful relationships start thinking on how you’re going to make room in your life to let the good ones in and he bad ones out.

    Meaningful relationships: how do I get one?

    • It involves work and personal commitment. I’m not going to lie to you: to have meaningful relationships, you’ll need to devote love, time and care to someone. It takes work but like I’ve always heard anything that is worthwhile in life has to be fought for.
    • Be picky. You can be a crowd pleaser if you’re going to pursue meaningful relationships in your life. It’s much more effective to have one or two close friends than 500 friends on Facebook that are not around when you need a shoulder to cry on.
    • Don’t give yourself to anyone and everyone. This follows that last one. Yes you have to give yourself a little bit, but people should earn your trust first. And don’t give yourself away, you’re precious. Make them work it!
    • Don’t settle for scrapes of love. You’re looking for the real deal. If a friend can’t give you a similar amount of their time and attention as the ones you provide them, then maybe you shouldn’t settle for just that.

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sianainengland/5893681354


  2. The Importance of Empathy in Your Relationship

    June 13, 2013

    romance and empathy

    by Jonathan Lenbuck

     

    In order for a relationship to be successful, having empathy for your partner is important. Of course, your partner also has to have empathy for you. We all have to work at our relationships to ensure we get the most out of the experience, while taking into account the other person’s feelings, wishes and needs. Yet for some people, fostering empathy as part of a close relationship can be difficult to achieve.

     

    What is Empathy?

     

    The word ‘empathy’ has only been part of language use for just over a century. Empathic capabilities in humans are considered to be a part of our emotional intelligence. When we empathise with another person, we are able to see things from their point of view.

    Some of you will be familiar with the phrase “Don’t judge a man until you have walked in his shoes,” which speaks of the importance of empathy and moral values. Empathic abilities enable us to form the basis of a moral code, based on how we believe other people would like to be treated.

    When we know someone well, we can very often predict what they would do in certain situations, based on our knowledge of that person. This is referred in psychology as “Theory of Mind.” Due to our empathic capacities, we can respond appropriately in social situations, and take socially appropriate actions in a range of different situations.

     

    Empathic Issues

     

    Like so many problems in psychology, a good way to emphasise the importance of empathy in our relationships is to look at what happens when someone has very few empathic capabilities. A number of psychological conditions can inhibit an individual’s empathic ability. Some of these are:

    When a person lacks empathy, their behaviour is not always what we might expect. Often, the individual may seem thoughtless or arrogant at times. In extreme cases, this can lead to cruelty and distress. However, for someone living with a psychological condition, it is not their fault if they say the wrong thing, or sometimes seem cold before they see your reaction.

    They are relying on your empathy to see things from their perspective. Those who have empathy learn to understand that no harm is meant by the occasional cutting remark. The individual was simply unable to foresee the impact their words would have, in the current situation.

    Some individuals tend to see things in black and white. When a person has a different opinion to them, they react negatively. They enter a defensive state of mind where they are unable to see the point of what the other person is saying. This means that collaborative work and discussion can be extremely difficult.

     

    Anger versus Empathy

     

    No matter what our capacity for empathy, when we become angry, our ability to empathise becomes compromised. When we become: frustrated, stressed, or angry it becomes difficult to see things clearly. Many of us will admit that when we get carried away in an argument, we can say things we don’t really mean in the heat of the moment. Then afterwards, when we have had the chance to calm down, we regret saying them and feel compelled to apologise.

     

    The Importance of Empathy in Close Relationships

     

    Having empathy for others is important in all relationships. We demonstrate our empathic abilities for a partner by identifying what that person is feeling. To have empathy for other people, we must be in touch with our own feelings. Good listening skills are valuable to enable great communication between partners.

    Someone with an empathetic nature is patient, kind and understanding. They accept that we all have flaws, but that we deserve to be loved in spite of them. Those wishing to learn how to become more empathetic should know that to have empathy for someone else, we must first love ourselves.

     

    Empathy in the Spotlight

     

    When couples come to a counselling session, they are asked how they feel about their relationship. Counsellors use empathic questioning, to encourage empathic thinking in other people. For example, a typical question frequently asked during a counselling session is: “How do you think your partner feels about your relationship?”

    In situations where a person has very little empathy, therapy can nurture vital relationship skills. Increasing an individual’s awareness about problems which may occur in future, and finding ways to deal with them is the role of the counsellor. Issues affecting a couple’s relationship are identified, and strategies are discussed so the couple can deal with them as they arise.

     

    Author Bio: Jonathan Lenbuck writes on topics relevant to healthy relationships and strong marriages. He is the primary contributor to the Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney website, and also contributes regularly to other blogs as a guest writer. Jonathan writes on a variety of topics, including pre-marriage counselling, communication issues, tips for greater intimacy and sexual difficulties.

     Image CreditWirawat Lian-udom