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difficulties empathizing with my boyfriend


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V.I.P Member
I try to take a practical approach in this kind of situation. I've grown over many years to accept that I can't offer an immediate solution, so what I do is help my partner's emotional state become more real to me, even when protecting myself a bit. I offer myself as a mirror by which they can get a sense of their own dimensionality. So I ask questions about their sense of self and what they imagine the consequences of their feelings, to mirror and draw out those feelings and also acknowledge their validity. I'm trying to see how they make these feelings concrete within their lives - not just a repressed theme - and never immediately offer solutions. They have to own the solution if they are to act on it, and that takes time. Something invented in me can't be transferred to them. Empathy risks becoming just sentimentalising a person, thinking of them only in terms of their crises, creating a passive image of them, as opposed to engaging (with) their intentionality. So I try to find ways to make them real to me and leave them feeling seen. But I also have to look after myself within that, because it can be a bit overwhelming. We must be cautious of being therapists in our own relationships, and it takes courage and doggedness to try at all, from both sides.


my boyfriend and i have been dating for a year and a half now, the first few months were amazing. i feel like we're at the stage where we run into problems with each other more often than not, my boyfriend constantly says i never empathize with him when he has problems. providing solutions rather than saying im sorry and moving on has always been the way i dealt with issues. it's constantly becoming a problem when my boyfriend shares his life with me. i don't know what to do.
I also provide solutions when someone I care about shares their problems with me. It drives them crazy, which is confusing because offering a solution is the best way to help someone with a problem right...?


it's not that simple for me though, it's hard for me to just sit there and hear him vent. if he's talking to me about his issues shouldn't i be providing a solution to help him? saying sorry doesn't do anything.
This is very relatable- especially when the person shares the same problem with you multiple times --> you'd think they are looking for a solution by this point, but instead they really just want to feel justified in feeling bad.

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