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-   -   Empathic or Sympathetic or both, which one are you? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=658)

MonoVCPHG 08-21-2009 02:38 PM

Empathic or Sympathetic or both, which one are you?
 
Redpepper and I talk a lot. We also have different views on many things from relationships to social inadequacies and capitalism. It is our differences and constant learning that makes our love more destiny than logical. There is armour around us that we built over time which things can't penetrate.

After having several interesting discussions with Redpepper about our different approaches to friendships and emotional resolution to things that happen, I believe it has a lot to do with one major difference. I am more sympathetic and she is empathetic.

"Both sympathy and empathy involve "tuning in" to ("entering") the other person's inner world. After tuning in, the person using empathy temporarily becomes that person in a limited way ("identifies with"), for example, the grieving and loving son; this does not usually happen for the person using sympathy." http://www.empathy-and-listening-skills.info/#summary

This plays a role in how we connect with people in general and how we assist others. Although I have empathic tendencies they usually involve actually living in the negative experiences I see which makes me in turn negative in my own life. I have learned that being sympathetic is much more healthy for me.

I love her being an empath. This is just one of many reasons I find her fascinating as well as beautiful. I think she believes this causes a rift between us but it does not. It makes me appreciate her letting me share in her love even more.

So here's the question..do you feel more sympathetic or empathetic?

NeonKaos 08-21-2009 02:41 PM

Neither, really. Most of the time I try to mind my own business and wish others would do the same.

MonoVCPHG 08-21-2009 02:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YGirl (Post 5193)
Neither, really. Most of the time I try to mind my own business and wish others would do the same.

Haha! I love you YGIRL...in the non-poly kinda way :rolleyes:

River 08-21-2009 03:01 PM

Good topic! Unfortunately, I'll have to respond to it at a later time -- as my partner and I are on out the door headed for breakfast. Yum! I'll think about what to say in response to the topic.

MonoVCPHG 08-21-2009 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JRiverMartin (Post 5197)
Good topic! Unfortunately, I'll have to respond to it at a later time -- as my partner and I are on out the door headed for breakfast. Yum! I'll think about what to say in response to the topic.

Have a great breakfast my friend! :D

XYZ123 08-21-2009 05:36 PM

For me it really depends on the person and situation. Most people tell me I'm empathetic. If I have feelings for someone, be they family ties, love or friendship, I am much more empathetic. To children I am empathetic most times because they just strike that nerve in me. With people I don't know well or don't have strong emotional ties to I find myself more sympathetic. I think it's because I know them less well and therefor can't "become" them for the moment. Also, if someone is in a situation I am opposed to and could never do myself (ex: my friend knowingly had unprotected sex but had an abortion during a stable period in her life as an adult with her long time bf) I cannot feel empathy but I can feel sympathy for the hurt they feel.

Barry 08-21-2009 10:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YGirl (Post 5193)
Neither, really. Most of the time I try to mind my own business and wish others would do the same.

LOL, I love it. I find your response alluring. Wow, what does that say about me?

I have always had difficulty in finding a clear separation between the definitions of these two words. The definition of sympathy = the ability to enter into, understand, or share somebody else's feelings....to think or feel alike. The definition of empathy = the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties.......to vicariously experience the feelings, thought and experience of another. I think the true definition for either is found in the individual, in how they are hard wired to interpret life. For me I am capable of both. I feel compelled to jump on the Myers-Briggs band wagon again. It depends on the innate personality that we were born with. I am an INFJ and have very little difficulty in sensing what is going on with another person, and interpreting what I sense on a feeling level. It translates to both an empathetic and sympathetic understanding. True, sometimes I wish I did not understand. I've had people share horrendous things with me, and true to my nature, I have felt it and wished I had not. I doubt that I have helped clarify anything other than my own confusion about the definition of the two words, and because of that do not see how the difference, whatever it may be, could be the source of a bone of contention. I think both are good.
Barry

vandalin 08-21-2009 10:54 PM

I am an empath. Plain and simple. Always have been, always will be. I also happen to be a very strong empath, sometimes knowing what a person is truly feeling before they are ready to admit it to themselves...and when we discuss it they agree with me that that is really how they have been feeling (which makes this whole Elric thing that much harder).

The definition to me is really simple. Sympathy is when you can imagine how a person may feel, Empathy is when you KNOW how a person feels. A widow feels empathy for another widow. A friend who has never lost someone important feels sympathy for a friend who just lost a parent.

Barry 08-21-2009 11:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vandalin (Post 5213)
Sympathy is when you can imagine how a person may feel, Empathy is when you KNOW how a person feels. A widow feels empathy for another widow. A friend who has never lost someone important feels sympathy for a friend who just lost a parent.

Vandalin,

Perfect....that rings clear and true. Thanks!

Barry

River 08-22-2009 12:19 AM

I have a fair bit of the Researcher in my soul, so I'll have to poke around and think a bit before saying anything about the difference between empathy and sympathy -- and the relation of these to compassion, altruism, etc.

At least one significant philosopher, Evan Thompson, [http://individual.utoronto.ca/evant/] has argued that empathy is at the very root and core of human consciousness -- that only via empathy do we become conscious human beings to begin with! I think he's onto something important, there.

I was just thinking before beginning to write here that empathy grows, it expands, it evolves.... And via this development and maturation of empathy over time we discover, for example, that same-sex love is essentially like heterosexual love, and that people of differing so-called "races" also partake of a common human experience, and are essentially alike, etc.... So empathy allows us, over time, to include more and more of humanity, and even of other species, into our kind -- our kindred. Difference doesn't dissolve kindredness, it merely expands it! Most enemies and strangers are so very near to being friends!


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