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January 22, 2018 3:22 pm  #1


It's striking how many of us feel empathy for our cheating, lying partners. Poor babies!  They are having issues!  Awwww. This makes them ENTITLED to hijack our lives, devastate us with lies, put our health and emotional sanity at risk and throw our kids onto the heap of their garbage. Really?  Such BS. I call BS on them. If WE had issues would we address them by lying, cheating, living a double life, hurting other human beings to remorselessy satisy our sexual desires, addictions, whatever?  And then not have the decency to be honest with our partner about it?  Why are we giving them the gift of our empathy?  It is one way to deal with the trauma we experience. I am sick of being empathetic. They do not deserve it. Let's save our empathy for ourselves, our kids, our pets. I have no more for my ex. There is something truly monstrous about what he has done. Since he has moved out I honestly do not want to lay eyes on him again.


January 22, 2018 3:32 pm  #2

Re: Empathy

I was thinking about this just this morning.  I don't know how true this is for others, but I think that many of us have been in relationships in which we have been doing the "emotional caretaking."  We are the ones who keep an eye on our partner's state of mind, and we are the ones who notice when something is off, and we are the ones who broach the discussions.  Whether this is because our partners are lacking in empathy or self awareness or we ourselves have been brought up in situations in which we have been trained into becoming emotional caretakers (that's the case for me), somehow we find ourselves locked in this pattern with our spouses.  Whether they seek us out, or we respond to their need (because it's a familiar role for us?), it seems to open the door to their emotional abuse of us. 
 But I'm with you; save the empathy for ourselves, and learn how to recognize our own self destructive responses so we don't repeat our situations!


January 22, 2018 4:47 pm  #3

Re: Empathy

I'm with you both.  I have no empathy for my ex.  I don't feel sorry for her because she struggled with her sexuality.  I don't feel sorry because she was and is selfish.  She took me hostage by lying to me and presenting a false front before we got married.  She lied to me throughout our marriage and inflicted emotional abuse by constantly rejecting me and continuing to lie to me.  She broke my heart by cheating on me and lying to me about that as well on a daily basis for months.   She deserves no empathy because she didn't handle herself in a way that deserves empathy.  

When a person is selfish and chooses to destroy another person's life in order to keep a secret they lose my respect and my empathy.  

-Formerly "Lostdad" - I now embrace the username "phoenix" because my former life ended in flames, but my new life will be spectacular. 


January 23, 2018 12:23 pm  #4

Re: Empathy

I think it's interesting that those of us who give the most empathy to others rarely do so for ourselves.  If given a scenario, I can usually think of a reason(s) that someone did what they did.  Yet if put in that same situation, I cannot see myself making that same decision.

He cheated
He must have felt really lonely.  Did I do that to him?  Was he so distraught over how I treated him that he went to others?

He didn't tell me how he was feeling
Maybe he just didn't know how to.  Maybe I'm not approachable.  Maybe I don't have good reactions to hearing about change.

He's not giving me any intimacy
Well if he's not attracted to me, it would be difficult to.  Maybe I could have tried harder to keep myself up.

We make their excuses for them.  We prefer to jump to innocent conclusions because we trust people in general - think that they generally speaking, it's safer to think they do not do things with malice in their hearts.  WE don't, so maybe they don't, either.  We feel bad if we jump to conclusions - so we don't.  We give them more excuses than we'd ever allow for ourselves.  All of that is fine - until you start to see evidence that that's likely NOT what's happening.  Except that we STILL keep going with the innocent until proven guilty thing.  We think it noble and just, and we view every situation as a separate event with a separate explanation.  At some point though, each brush stroke is painting a picture.  And we just keep staring at the brush strokes, never seeing the whole picture they're painting.  Sometimes looking at the big picture is necessary, and smart.  There are no art critics out there that are know as brush stroke critics - they need be able to see the details AND the big picture in order to critique it.  We empaths miss the forest for the trees far too often.


You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

January 23, 2018 12:32 pm  #5

Re: Empathy

Had to log back in for this. Kel's post is gold.

Did you see what she said point by point? "Did I do that to him?" "...distraught over how I treated him" "...I'm not approachable" "...I could have tried harder..."

Very telling. Not only do we make excuses, we put our own heads on the chopping block as well.


January 23, 2018 2:12 pm  #6

Re: Empathy

Wow! This is me to a tee! My mind keeps making excuses for him. When he is not around me, I am so pissed and go over scenarios in my head of how I am going to approach him with this. Then, when he is around me I get stupid and start making those excuses and chicken out you know the...what if this or what if that etc. 
I'm falling apart bit by bit. 

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain, when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami ~

January 23, 2018 2:53 pm  #7

Re: Empathy

The funny thing is that for most people, they can only see their own side of the argument - they cannot or will not put themselves in your shoes to see how you feel, and how that could lead to your actions.  WE, on the other hand, literally have the opposite problem.  I don't think it's just one problem, either.  It's a combo:

1.  Empathy for others
2.  Ability to see that life is not just black and white.  This is actually a variation of #1; it means that we've learned that people are precious, and they are vulnerable, and that we can connect with them on a level that lets us understand that there are not "bad" people and "good" ones, but just..... people.  That if we know someone and can connect to them, we can feel for them, and relate to how they feel and how those feelings led to choices.
3.  Ability to understand people well and connect to them.  We figure them out, so to speak, and we understand what drives them, where their baggage is, and how that baggage affects them.
4.  We believe that we should treat others how we wish to be treated.  We do not see our behavior as being completely a reaction to their actions, but a choice we are in control of.  We continue to return poor behavior with a good response, because we think it is right, and good.
5.  We put others before ourselves.  If everyone did this, oh what a perfect world it would be!  But most don't - or only put certain people ahead of themselves - parents do it all the time for their young children.  Spouses SHOULD do it for each other.  But when you're the only one doing it in your relationship, things quickly become lop-sided.  We just keep being who we think we should be, and they just keep taking that advantage.  Until they feel entitled to our best, and we feel as though we should always be eating the scraps from the table.
6.  We have rose-colored glasses on.  Not just for our spouse, but for mankind in general.  We see the good in people.  We know that everyone has good in them.  We try to be thankful for what we have.  We think others operate as we do - it's pleasant and easy to believe this - particularly if you grew up in a good family focused on the greater good.  You share, you give, you assume only the best of intentions from others.
7.  We believe.  Because of #6, we believe what people are saying - even if it doesn't match up with their actions.  We are trusting people, and we will tell people the truth.  So when someone tells us they're sorry and will do better, we believe them.  We have empathy for them in their situation, so we give them another shot.  We wait patiently.  We assume nothing's going wrong until we see evidence of it again  We LIKE being trusting, and we choose it over and over and over again.  Even when it's not a good decision.  Because we love being the one who trusts.  So much so that when we shouldn't trust, we actually believe them when they tell us that the issue of trust is OURS.  It's not them who has created the trust issue with their actions, but US who have issues with trust.  We are then forced to prove that not to be the case.

What's all of this lead to?  Well, it can lead to something wonderful - IF you're with others who are like you.  If you are in a relationship with someone who routinely shows you that your trust and belief are well-placed and their intentions are always transparent, then it's GREAT.  Two honest people, focused on the other.  The issue comes when the other person is NOT honest and well-intentioned and transparent, but insists that they are anyway.  Then we just keep ramming out head into the wall, wondering why it keeps hurting.  It keeps hurting because we've let our hearts lead us when our head is telling us it's not a good bet.  "Even then", we say, "we just keep trusting" - as if this is a GOOD thing.  It's not - we're just so wrapped up in appearing to be that person who believes in people that THAT's become more important to us than, well..... US.

Give yourself permission sometimes to think and behave the way everyone else on the planet would in your situation.  What would someone else think if they were looking in?  We often make the mistake of knowing what others would think if they didn't truly know this person.  Scrap that trash.  What does it look like to the outsider?  Because that's what it is.  We all know that singular situations can look bad if someone doesn't have the whole story - we've all seen Three's Company or I Love Lucy enough to know this.  And some extra information can sometimes make all the difference - if someone sees your spouse never helping you but doesn't know they have a debilitating disease that leaves them mostly bed-ridden in their free time, then yeah - that would make all the difference.  But we take LOTS of incidents and put a blanket of "if they knew him, they'd understand" over it.  Why?  "Because they'd know how strong our love is and that it's special and that he would never intentionally hurt me that way because he LOVES me."  Ummmmmm,...... NO.  That is not a REASON.  That is your interpretation of why this person is good despite the shitty stuff they keep doing to you.  From the outside, it looks like he/she doesn't care very much for you.  Because it's obvious to that that's the case.

Lord knows they don't need us making excuses for them; they'll make them all themselves.  It's US who's delusional.  They know what they're working with perfectly well.  It's us who don't want to face that truth sometimes.


You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

January 24, 2018 6:57 pm  #8

Re: Empathy


Maybe I am not so empathic. I don't trust people very easily. Doesn't that sound ironic?  I was pretty cynical when I met my husband. I was raised among self-centered people and always wanted their love and loyalty and never felt I had it. So my husband came along and changed my worldview on my own loveability. For the first time, I was first. He treated me so well it was healing for me. He was thoughtful and kind and his actions showed it. He made me rethink my worldview on people. Maybe the world wasn't as awful as I had believed. He was a safe person to be with. He would never hurt me. He made me feel truly loved. He actually changed me into a more loving person because of it. I felt less cynical. I was less unhappy with the world. Oh the irony. I don't want to be noble. I just don't like the idea of inflicting pain or suffering on anyone because it makes me almost feel that pain myself. Maybe it is me I was trying to protect from being hurt and somehow by trying so hard to avoid being hurt that is what the Universe brought me. So now I feel as if the world really is full of mostly horrible people. I was right all along. I feel there really is no safe place any longer. It has shaken my entire belief system to the core. This is so difficult to write but it is true. I feel like I have lost my purpose and everything I had believed in is just a facade.

     Thread Starter

January 24, 2018 8:05 pm  #9

Re: Empathy


It does shake our belief system.

But these spouses are wrong on so many levels.

You or I could never do this to someone..we have empathy.   And that is what separates us from them.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight .."  2Corinthians 5:7

January 24, 2018 8:58 pm  #10

Re: Empathy

Thank you, Rob. You are so kind and supportive. I think I just need to vent sometimes. I am still in an alternate Universe.

     Thread Starter

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