Empathy, sometimes referred to as trading places, can help you grow closer to your date and establish a solid relationship foundation. Understanding empathy also can help you avoid negative relationships, especially with narcissists. The key to empathetic dating involves striking a balance between your emotions and objectivity. This balance can prove difficult to maintain, leading to dating advice inquiries about empathic dating.
Avoid misguided empathy by asking questions, recommends Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott in the Eharmony Advice article "The Two Vital Steps to Trading Places." Your date may react to situations differently from you, and asking questions uncovers the reasons for these different reactions. For instance, say your date arrives late due to traffic. Don't assume your date feels frustrated because you feel that way when you're in traffic. Instead ask, "How did it make you feel?" She could surprise you with an answer like "It wasn't too bad because I heard my favorite song on the radio."
Receive Nonverbal Messages
Messages sent by nonverbal communication can help you empathize with your date and cue you in as to how he really feels. For example, if your date tells you "I'm having a good time" but his posture remains stiff, he likely feels uncomfortable. By identifying this behavior, you can analyze the situation and take action to make him feel more comfortable. The action could involve changing the conversation's topic or slowing down how fast you talk.
Mirroring your date's behavior can make him empathize for you, Marco Iacoboni MD, PhD, shares with Cosmopolitan magazine writer Molly Triffin in her article "How to Totally Rock a First Date." For example, if your date speaks at a slower speed than you, slow down how fast you talk. Mirroring behavior proves a delicate task Dr. Iacoboni advises to Triffin. Done incorrectly, your date might perceive your actions as mockery. To avoid this, time your mirroring actions a few seconds after your date's behavior. (See References 1)
Reflect on Discussions
Reflecting on discussions helps ensure your date shows empathy towards you. Warning signs to watch out for include conversations always center on your date, your feelings go ignored, and lacked gratitude. For example, say you drive your boyfriend to work because his car is in the shop but he refuses to drive you to work when your car is in for repair. Recognizing un-empathic dates can help save you much grief and heartbreak. (See References 3)