Can men feel empathy?

by mssinglemama on March 3, 2008

herbritts.jpgMy best friend has a theory – that men can not be truly empathetic. And for the men reading this, here’s the definition:

Empathy: one’s ability to recognize, perceive and feel the emotions of another; often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”.

Take this scenario as a case in point. No hard feelings toward the male subject in this story, after all, he is a man and this is apparently a trait they can’t help. Just read this study.

Tonight, while in his sweet bath, Benjamin knocked his tooth into the side of the tub. All I hear is – CRACK! – his front capped tooth had just split again. The first time, this winter, he had fallen outside and it was a bloody mess. My boyfriend Kris was on the phone two seconds later calling a dentist friend – who capped it the next day. He had saved the day! And even accompanied us to the dentist’s office. Quite a feat for anyone dating a single mom. This time – the tooth has shattered into three pieces that are somehow sticking together. Benjamin is calm during the bath and all is well. But as soon as we get out. He notices. He takes his little, itty bitty fingers and starts pushing his broken tooth around. He can’t even eat his yogurt snack.

My heart is breaking into a million pieces as I look at my sweet, sweet little guy and imagine the damn pain he’s going to have to feel tomorrow when they have to cap it again.

Tell this story to any woman and you’re bound to get a reaction filled with gasps and lots and lots of questions. All followed by words of comfort like, “don’t worry, everything will be fine,” “is there anything I can do?”, “I’m so sorry this happened.”

Tell it to a man… (in my case, Kris) – and you’re likely to get this.

“I don’t know what to tell you.” And that’s about it. I was interupting him…he was deep in study land. And this little emergency was definitely not in his plans (I’ve also heard men can’t multi-task very well).

Next I call my girlfriends to fill the comfort void and also want to test this that men have no empathy theory. Here are their reactions:

Girlfriend #1: “WHAT??!!! How did it happen? Is he okay?” She goes on to tell me it’s a lucky thing it happened now, and not next week when I’ll be out of town on a work trip (my first four days away from him since he’s been born). Plenty of empathy.

Gilfriend #2: “Do you need me?” She says it only seconds after I tell her what’s happened. Once again…empathy.

One of these friends, Mia, says if I find a man who can truly comfort me in these situations that she’ll be jealous as hell. She swears she’s had “this conversation up and down, a million times, with all of the women in her life and they all come up with one conclusion: that women should NOT expect empathy from a man – because it’s just not possible.” And, by the way, she’s in a very happy relationship.

But shouldn’t we expect empathy? Do we even have a choice? This report says we don’t. In fact it says that men definitely have a lower capacity for empathy than women.

Looking back on all of my failed relationships – a lack of empathy is on the top of my “why it ended” list. Should I re-adjust the way I think or what I expect? Maybe I should just run out and buy “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” Jeez. I know Kris cares about Benjamin and I. So the question is – can I compromise my empathy standards?

What do you think? Please tell me this theory is not true!

[Photo Source: AllPosters.com - buy it here]

Related posts:

  1. One side effect of being a dating single mama…my baby is trying to make out with me.
  2. A Christmas miracle…I got to go to the grocery…alone.
  3. Good guys do exist.
  4. What women really want.
  5. Perfume or magic love potion? You decide.

{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Usman Sheikh March 3, 2008 at 4:48 am

I want to say you are stereotyping here but then I won’t. Truth is a lot of men won’t be showing too much empathy. Maybe it is due to the fact, if we do show empathy we get labelled as not being one of the guys.

It comes down to social conditioning and only those who are comfortable with themselves as to who they are will be able to show the empathy you are searching for.

Interesting blog by the way.

Reply

Jennifer W March 3, 2008 at 6:53 am

I don’t know that it’s a lack of empathy as much as it is their need to solve a problem. Hence the ‘I don’t know what to tell you’ response. There wasn’t a way for him to solve it so while he might empathize with the child’s pain and inconvenience this caused, I think they express emotions completely differently than we do. I bet if you talked about a situation where someone got kicked in the balls he’d show a lot more empathy in his reaction! ;-)

Now if only I had figured all this out before my husband bailed! lol

Reply

lil bit April 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

“I bet if you talked about a situation where someone got kicked in the balls he’d show a lot more empathy in his reaction!”

I have a hard time believing that this would be a show of empathy (I’ve never craked a tooth but I can empathize with the kid) instead of him relfecting on his OWN memories.

empathizing does’t require prior knowledge, just genuine caring. I think that’s where the difference lies..

Reply

Red Wine Gums March 3, 2008 at 10:01 am

I like to think that there are men out there who empathise and I’m deluded enough to hope that I’m one of them.

It might be more to do with reactions. Often when a women talks to a man she just wants him to listen whereas the man’s instinct is to try and solve the problem. In the case described above there wasn’t much a guy could do. There was nothing for him to solve. That might be part of the problem?

Reply

mssinglemama March 3, 2008 at 11:04 am

Usman – thanks! Glad you think it’s interesting and thanks for not saying I’m stereotyping – hence the study I cited.

Jennifer and Red Wine Gums – you’re right – no problem to solve. So I just have to add it to my list of things I “understand” and “accept” about men. I wonder what their’s is for us???

Reply

Jenny March 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm

I won’t say you’re stereotyping either, but I think you’re coming pretty darn close when you say that lack of empathy is something you just have to accept about men. Meaning, you’re painting with a very broad brush and at risk of painting members of the male sex who do not deserve to be included in your “no-empathy” group.

I’d submit that the apparent lack of empathy from a man (as perceived by a woman) is not so much an actual lack as it is something that is differently expressed. Most women like to express empathy in very explicit terms, as you’ve said: “What do you need me to do?”, “Better that this happens now than when you’re away…”, “Oh dear, I’m so sorry!”, etc. Indeed, empathy can be considered a passive emotive expressive that many women (though not all) mastered while growing up.

Most men, as some commenters above have suggested, show their empathy implicitly by wanting to solve the problem. I can definitely see a man jumping in because he remembers what it was like to be in a particular situation and feels compelled to do something if he can. If there’s no problem to solve, however, it doesn’t mean the man doesn’t somehow understand the emotion involved; there’s just no means by which to express it in an active way.

So, simply because someone doesn’t express something like empathy in a way you recognize, do not be so quick to say they haven’t the capacity to express it at all. Back in the day, men used to think that women didn’t have the capacity to feel sexual pleasure, but were very willing to treat them for “hysteria” with primitive vibrators. It wasn’t until much, much later that doctors finally understood that women’s physical paroxysms from such treatment were actually manifestations of sexual pleasure.

Indeed, I’d be willing to suggest that the men who don’t show empathy in a way women understand are men who have never been much encouraged to develop their yin aspect. Men who do have a highly developed yin (yes, they exist) are often labelled “gay” or at best “metrosexual.” In many ways, I do think it’s a lot easier for a woman to have a highly developed yang aspect than it is for a man to have a highly developed yin. Women who leap into action to solve problems are, at worst, paid well at their jobs. Men who visibly empathize with others are, at worst, hunted down and tormented by their male peers.

Reply

Red Wine Gums March 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Not sure we should be comparing lists of that nature :-)

Broad brush strokes. Men have an ability to put something in the brain and leave it there until it needs attention. Women can’t help but think about an issue such as you describe. There are differences to be sure but it doesn’t mean lack of emapthy.

I know you want your man to recognize when something is important to you without your prodding but sometimes we need it. There are times a man needs to be left to his cave as well

Reply

Lauren March 3, 2008 at 12:48 pm

I hate to admit it, but I’ve definitely faked empathy before. I’ve said things like, “Oh no! Are you ok? Is there anything I can do?” etc., when I’m really thinking, “I have no idea what the hell to tell you or do for you, so please don’t drag me into this any further!”

For the most part, I’m empathetic, but there are plenty of times where I haven’t been. I think there is some bit of physiological difference between men and women when it comes to empathy, but I also believe a lot of it comes down to social conditioning (like Usman Sheikh mentioned above). Basically, men can’t always show much empathy, and women can easily fake it.

Reply

mssinglemama March 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm

So…maybe men just need to “fake it” more. Because, as you say…Lauren, we women – do fake it often. But we are also better listeners I think. Our capacity to listen to another woman’s problem or issue is much stronger than a man’s.

Jenny – you’re absolutely right about the double-standards on the Yin and the Yang! Nice points…

Red Wine – yep… we love to think about everything… a lot!

Reply

Lisa March 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm

I just ended a relationship with a man who was amazingly empathetic. Probably the nicest guy I have ever known. You wonder why it ended??? Too nice, too passive aggressive, too accommodating, with neither a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of and a sketchy financial future. My conclusion at 41 years old with 4 children, married once and widowed once (& throw a couple long term serious love relationships in between). Every man is different and where one might be more of one thing, he will be less of another. There is no such thing as perfection. It is about our value system and what we can live with or live without. If I really want empathy, I can go to a girlfriend or my mother.

Evolutionarily, men were meant to defend their land, family and to make war. They are still hardwired to be that way. You can’t kill an enemy if you feel empathy for them.

They just need to evolve…LOL

Reply

Jenny March 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm

So, by saying “men just need to fake it more”, are you saying you want men to lie to you so you can feel better? Or, are you saying that you want a man to go through the motions (a la Dexter the Righteous Serial Killer) because it shows you he cares about you in a way you understand?

Also, I don’t agree that women are stronger (or more willing) listeners than men. There are a lot of women who don’t hear anything anyone says if it doesn’t come out of their own mouths, and there are plenty of men who can teach classes to women on being better listeners. My previous boss was such a woman and my partner (5 years and counting) is such a man.

Reply

mssinglemama March 3, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Lisa – that’s funny you bring that up – because it’s just what the report I cited states – that if men had more empathy it might actually impede their ability to dominate, cause pain and therefore rise to power. Very interesting…us women have to be more empathetic because we’re mothers.

Jenny – yes, I think – given their apparant weakness they should try a little harder.

Reply

singlemomseeking March 3, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Loved this post, and I hope Benjamin is okay.

Like you, lack of empathy is one of my deal-breakers, too.

In my recent, uh, situation, the Biologist truly showed empathy after poisoning me… I mean, after our hike, during which I got a terrible case of poison oak. He has shown that he’s truly concerned, and this means a whole lot.

Reply

mssinglemama March 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Nice Single Mom Seeking! So glad to hear he’s so understanding because that post you wrote was off the hook! Nice catch!

Reply

mlabossi March 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm

You might want to consider that empathy is expressed in different ways. One way is the way you describe-showing visible and verbal emotional concern and exhibiting emotions analogous to the person one is feeling empathy for (being upset because the other person is upset). This is a form of empathy that is easy to recognize as such. After all, they are “feeling your pain” and showing it clearly.

Another way to be empathetic is to act in ways that show concern and understanding that do not involve such visible emotional displays. For example, understanding that a person is upset at a crisis (a smashed tooth), and taking action to help the person.

I’ve often been told that we men always want to fix problems and don’t want to talk about how we feel. That seems generally true. But this doesn’t indicate that we do not have empathy. I know, in my own case, that I do have empathy. But I express that empathy primarily by trying to set things right. For example, if a friend’s cat is lost outside in a rain storm and she is upset and afraid for her beloved pet, I don’t talk about how that makes me feel-I go out in the woods to find the cat. This is because, as a person who has pets, I know exactly how I’d feel (having been out in a storm or two to rescue my own pets).

I do understand the need for verbal and emotional reassurance, but what a person does says a great deal about what he or she feels. Even if he or she doesn’t say much about it.

Reply

dadshouse March 3, 2008 at 8:33 pm

I agree with Jenny that a lot of men show their empathy through action – trying to solve the problem – whereas women show it by communing, commiserating, talking about feelings. Not true for every guy, though – a buddy of mine grew up with 4 sisters, and he is more prone to show empathy by talking, saying things like your girlfriends did when they asked, “what can I do to help?” Women love that about him, and my other buddies and I wonder why he gets so many props when he sits there commiserating with a woman but we actually solve a problem.

I disagree wholeheartedly with the comment that women are better listeners. Some people are good listeners and some aren’t, it’s not a gender thing. Women might perceive other women to be better listeners if empathy is verbalized (or faked, like some of you are admitting. Too funny.)

Reply

mssinglemama March 3, 2008 at 9:10 pm

I don’t know…Dad’s House…I think men are great listeners but I often find that with my girlfriend’s we could talk about something for hours – while the same conversation with my boyfriend would last for say – 20 minutes.

So, I guess it’s not that either sex is a better listener … but perhaps, women are better at really hashing out their feelings verbally?

I love everyone’s responses! And SO glad to hear from all of you men – especially the Philospher’s comments … very nice. You’re absolutely right. Actions speak volumes about one’s empathy and we ALL express our empathy differently.

Reply

bewilderedhousewife March 3, 2008 at 9:20 pm

I just can’t get behind this idea. I happen to be married to an empathetic man.

We women need to stop making judgements and accusations and recognize that simply because men don’t express empathy in ways that WE FEEL ENTITLED TO, it does not mean that they are lacking.

I am growing tired of the stereotypes offered by supposedly ‘enlightened’ women who insist that men do things our way – women who refuse to honor the qualities and expressions inherent in men.

Heads out of butts, ladies. Respect works both ways.

Reply

Ducker March 3, 2008 at 9:22 pm

ill put this for you in thr best way I can…We men are raised to be in control of the situation nad for that reason we tend to grasp situations in a very cool analytic way, trying to leave feelings out so as not to let them influence the correct, proper and most direct solution to the problem at hand….

We can be empathic..sometimes, but not generally.

Reply

mssinglemama March 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Housewife – okay…so, you’re one of the lucky ones! Congratulations. And I am far from enlightened – thank you. Hence this blog. We are all enlightening each other.

Ducker – you’re awesome!

Reply

hughvic March 3, 2008 at 10:17 pm

The straight answer, from this divorced male, is that men (in societies like the U.S.) can’t muster empathy, but a gentleman can.

I think that the following generalization is probably a fair one: feminist ethics are empathic and relational; classic, paternalistic ethics are hyper-rational and abstract. To overstate it quite a bit, men ponder the right thing to do while women care to act.

We men are beastly, but a true gentleman—of any caste or pedigree—is a thing of great beauty. I saw one recently, a white-haired, Southern gentleman holding a tiny boy up to the drinking fountain in a department store, the man’s walking stick propped against the wall next to the water fountain. The child’s mother came looking for her son and, finding him so tended to, was embarassed and took out her embarassment on the boy as she ushered him away. The smiling, thankless old man simply collected his stick and strode off in silence.

The boy had been thirsty. The gentleman evidently knew what it’s like to be a thirsty little child who can’t reach the fountain. Empathy. Empathy and grace.

Reply

Heiredal March 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm

Reading this blog gave me the shivers and it made me feel plenty of empathy – but I must admit that my first thoughts went to Benjamin and his physical pain and not to you nor your powerlessness in the situation.

I think this is the difference in the way men feel empathy compared to women. Men’s empathy is more related to physical things whereas women are more concerned with the emotional aspects of a situation.

To me it’s not a matter of feeling empathy or not. It is rather a matter of us men doing it differently from women.

So let me finish off the way I see us men:
I hope Benjamin is okay!!

Reply

mssinglemama March 4, 2008 at 12:01 am

Heiredal – yes…that was MY first reaction – believe me. And just so everyone knows – this morning we took him straight to the hospital (his father and I) … and they decided to completely pull the tooth. So…he’s feeling much, much better now! Thank god!

Reply

randomesq March 4, 2008 at 3:14 am

Yowch – Little guy sounds like a brave one. Hope he’s feeling better.

I am going to agree with those who think that the reaction from men is to first solve the issue.

Having said that, yes, I believe that men can and do feel empathy. Perhaps the problem is also rooted in the expression of that empathy.

Reply

Paperspoons March 4, 2008 at 5:59 am

Interesting theory!

I think it is possible, but I am dating a single dad that has taken care of his 3 oldest children all by himself. I always tell him he’ll make me a great wife someday. I think he can truly empathize because he has had to be a mother and a father to his children since their mother is not in the picture. So I guess it just depends. I also think that having children makes you more empathetic also.

But, aside from all that…How is your baby? I hope he is okay and not in any pain!

Reply

Bavani March 4, 2008 at 6:38 am

I would have probably freaked if the same thing that happened to your little happened to mine! I hope he’s forgotten all about it now :)

I too have to agree that men tend to feel the need to solve a problem rather than just emphathise or just listen – drives me nuts sometimes when all I want to do is just rant and rave.

But at times, I do believe that we as women have the ability to keep our men in control :) – teach them even, how to emphathise.

Reply

mssinglemama March 4, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Paperspoons – he sounds like quite a catch – and yes, fathers are bound to have more empathy than childless men, just by the forces of nature alone!

Bavani – yes – some men are moldable – and so are relationships. Guess it’s just a long process of learning how you both communicate, what you want or need in regards to empathy.

On Benjamin: We had to just get the tooth pulled entirely – so he will have a toothless grin until his new tooth comes in when he’s 5 or 6. But – that capped tooth had been infected!!! The infection isn’t serious, but he’d probably been in pain for a while. So, now – granted his tooth is gone – he’s feeling MUCH better!

Reply

Tim Chard March 5, 2008 at 2:43 am

Hello MSM,

Do you mind if I comment? I’ll keep it short. lol…sorry

As an individual, you have strengths and weaknesses. These can be behaviourial or inherent.
When we search for a mate or partner, we should look for someone who compliments our own set of strengths and weaknesses. It is difficult to find someone who has the necessary complimentary strengths and weaknesses if we do not know what our own are first.

We must also understand the difference between what is inherent, the things that will not change, and those that are behaviourial, the things that we can change. The key element in the difference between empathy in men and women is focus. Men focus on the Object and women focus on the Emotion. This is inherent and will not change. We could alter the behaviour by ‘pretending’ or ‘acting’ to be a conforming empathiser, but do you want a partner who is real or faking it just to get approval? This difference should be seen as complimentary rather than indifferent to your needs. Many men could tell you about a situation where they did focus on the feelings of the one needing attention only to be told, ‘we don’t both need to be here, do something!’

If you reflect on the outcome rather than the situation, you will find that each of you played an important role. (If a lack of empathy has been displayed, then this is symptomatic of lacking self-respect.) As a situation escalates, these roles become more apparent. If the situation was life threatening, from a females point of view, would you rather an empathetic word or an empathetic action from your man? And then there is this thought. What man would want to be sick in bed without the empathic words from their partner?

I firmly believe men should try to broaden their empathy towards those they love as long as it is from within and not conformist. Only a fool will say that change cannot happen, but it does take time and patience. There are so many aspects to a fulfilling and happy relationship. Accepting empathy as it is given, rather than how you expect it, will go a long way towards your own development and that of your relationship.

Lastly but most important, how does Benjamin like the the new gap in his teeth? He will probably be feeling all grown up if this is his first lost tooth. He is lucky to have someone to care for his feelings and someone to pick him up and dust him off.

Tim

Reply

mssinglemama March 5, 2008 at 2:53 am

Perfect Tim! I loved this…

“If the situation was life threatening, from a females point of view, would you rather an empathetic word or an empathetic action from your man? And then there is this thought. What man would want to be sick in bed without the empathic words from their partner?”

As usual – you are absolutely right! And yes – I would want a man of action…I posed this question because I knew it would hit a chord and spark such an interesting discussion. Thanks for making it even better.

Benjamin is wonderful! Now that the old rotten tooth is out, he feels like a million bucks. As soon as I can get him to hold still I’ll post a picture.

Reply

kernel March 6, 2008 at 5:15 am

This was such a great blog to read! After some serious frustration with my boyfriend’s lack of empathy – I was literally googling to see if I could learn “how to teach a man to be empathetic.” I quite often wonder if I just need to accept it as being just the way he’s “wired” as a man, or if that acceptance means I’m giving up on the idea that he could ever truly understand me and where I come from. I can’t say I have that answer – but at least I know I’m not alone! Thanks for the good read.

Reply

dadshouse March 7, 2008 at 5:47 am

mssinglemama – could be your boyfriend who’s not the talkative one. Don’t assume all men quit at 20 minutes. I’ve had girlfriends where we talk for hours, and I’m an equal part of the conversation, listening and talking.

I do think women like to generate consensus more than men do, and maybe that takes hours of chatter..

Men can grunt for hours. Does that count for anything? (j/k)

Reply

mssinglemama March 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Kernel – so glad it helped! It’s tough…this low male empathy thing.

And Dads House – not sure if it’s so much the conversation’s length – as what’s said. Quality, not quantity. You sound like a great guy though!

Reply

AlLaf May 29, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Men express empathy through action.
Women through words, which are often fake.

It’s a very ugly scene to see a bunch of women who barely know each others pretend they care about each others problems. “Oh nooooooo, you poor girl! Aaaaaw! Are you all right?”

To say men are bad listeners is not true. It depends. My girlfriend thinks she’s so good at listnening to me, yet when we filled a very detailled questionnaire for fun about “knowing your partner” in some random book, I knew a lot more about her than she knows about me, despite the fact that I talk a lot.

Unless of course you want active listeners. People who will react to everything you say, making gestures, facial expressions, sounds…anything that hints they’re following you. Truth is, those don’t mean anything.

I don’t need to have my eyes wide open, nod, grab your knees as if I was impatiently waiting for you to spit out your next sentence and say “go on” every ten seconds to listen to someone.

I can stare at nothing and listen to my girlfriend. Funnily enough, I’m always the first to remind her things she told me.

Girlfriend: “I wish we’d travel more. We don’t travel enough.”
Me: “Six weeks ago, that night where we watched that movie, before we fell asleep, you were talking about needing to concentrate on your business”
Girlfriend: “well, um…you remember that? I meant *starts backpedaling*”

Reply

Hugo May 29, 2008 at 7:15 pm

This is the most narcissistic site I’ve found on WordPress. You go, girl! Keep going, deeper and deeper into your own movie, written and directed by and starring you-know-who!

It’s great!

Reply

kelly007 June 3, 2008 at 8:26 am

Just read this post. Like always, it’s as if you took the words right out of my head. ;)

Lack of empathy is a HUGE issue for me. Think I’m on the other ends of the spectrum since I’m a counselor, but still….I HATE the “I don’t know what to tell you,” b.s.

Reply

Hugo June 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Besides, it’s good for business—eh, kelly007?—this narcissistic hall of mirrors? After all, are we not, taxonomically, Homo Sapiens Sapiens sapiens sapiens sapien$ sapien$ sapien$ sapien$ sapien$…

Reply

Ms. Single Mama June 3, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Kelly – please ignore him … hey Hugo, stop picking on my readers, okay? I’m your target – not them.

P.S. I think you’re slightly nutso. Just sayin’ … yes, this site is narcisstic, but it’s by default…the purpose of my blog is to help other single moms through sharing my own experiences.

Reply

Hugo June 3, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Bullshit. Vanity, behold thyself.

Reply

kelly007 June 4, 2008 at 8:18 am

Hey, he’s reading your blog and made the effort to comment right? Works for me. Narcissism and sharing your experiences so others can relate are two very different things. Someone who uses such inflated speech should understand that.

Reply

Hugo June 4, 2008 at 9:52 am

Why Heavens! Your Democrats, aren’t you. Save the psychodebilitating condescensions, kelly. You may very well belong on the other side of the fainting couch.

Reply

Lichi June 5, 2008 at 4:16 am

Love this blog!

My bf and I are in a tense situation right now, because of the “lack of empathy”. Afer sharing my feelings with him, he scoffed at them. I then told him he was being distant, he told me to sort my issues out.. I told that If I couldn’t share my feelings with him, it’s over between us.

Q: How how do I communicate my feelings in a way that will accommodate our physiological differences and make us both happy?

Reply

mssinglemama June 5, 2008 at 7:46 am

Lichi – is he good and true? Maybe you should find another way to share your feelings with him, maybe writing them down?

God, I don’t know .. .anyone can tell you – I’m more of an expert in dating than relationshiops but good luck!

Reply

GbMstr June 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

Let me go out on limb. Empathy is a learned trait.

Now saying that, let me explain how I came to that belief. Growing up I didn’t see to much empathy in my life. Sympathy? Sure. Empathy? No.

Due to that, I didn’t show emotions too well. I had one sister who pretty much didn’t like being around us so I struggled to understand women and parents where way to emotional casual, to learn how to listen or show concern.

Then in high school I met a girl. I really liked her but she came back and wanted to just be friends. So my belief was that being friends would get her to like me. That didn’t work as I expected as much later we finally had an opportunity to kiss and it was like kissing my sister.

But, during this process I learned to listen and then I started showing concern for her and empathy for events in her life. But still no empathy towards me and my life.

Then it happened. I had moved on and was dating another girl and I was going through a very rough moment. But wasn’t trying to show it. She came up to me. Looked into my eyes and said, “Whats wrong, you look devastated.” No one has ever showed concern for me. I told her what was wrong and she said with her hand against my cheek, “It will be alright, we can do it together.”

This was a defining moment for me. I felt the full circle of empathy. And, I was hooked. Ever since then, I can see pain and joy in others eyes, in their facial expressions and through their actions. Some of my greatest happiness and sadness has been through the showing and receiving empathy by others. It’s very addictive. My kids have a better father because of it.

But as another wrote, some people don’t want their boyfriends or husbands to be too empathetic. They want their girlfriends and mothers to do that.

If women want us only to solve problems, then we become a tool for them and nothing more

The ideal situation is for husband/boyfriend to help solve problems and work together, and show the necessary affection and empathy for their girlfriend/spouse, while doing this with joy and true intent in their heart.

Reply

Hugo June 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Lichi dear, might I take you home with me? Would that be OK with Teacher?

Reply

davidrochester June 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Very interesting post. I would be inclined to say that men do feel empathy, but express it differently. Women are by nature more verbal than men are, and “trained” to express feelings, and to value the expression of feelings. I think it’s fair to say that one possible difference between masculine/feminine reactions is that the masculine reaction is to do something constructive or useful.

Now, if we think about it, there’s some motivation for him to do that. A man who doesn’t care about someone’s problem won’t try to fix it; he’ll just sit there, or nod, or whatever. If he tries to find a solution, chances are he’s doing it because he feels something. He might not express it verbally, but he does feel.

I think sometimes it’s helpful for women to “coach” the men in their lives a little bit, and just tell them when they need to “feel felt” rather than being given a solution. It’s a level of vulnerability for a guy to do this, and I think it is unlikely to happen early in a relationship … it requires the man in your life admitting that he doesn’t have any control over what’s going on, and that’s hard to do.

Reply

Hugo June 26, 2008 at 1:07 am

Quite so, davidrochester, my good man! You’ve nailed us cads to a tee. And your thoughtful prescription is a positive boon: that we might better embrace the active importance of sheer empathy and, really, of just good company. Just so. Compliments.

So now, may I take Lichi home with me? Some things, as you know, are better left unsaid…

Reply

Diana September 13, 2008 at 4:56 am

Somebody here mentioned that men are wired to:

Protect their land and family

OK … so why won’t my husband do anything, when his brother or nephews talk vulgar and disrespectful in my presence, and TO me at times … one time giving me the finger … and my husband KNOWS this bothers me, offends me and I’m just not the type to think it’s funny???

Men .. I’d love to hear your response to this.

Diana

Reply

myopinion777 January 7, 2009 at 11:14 pm

My girlfriend showed me a decorative item she bought. I said, “Huh, that’s nice.”

I sensed that’s not the response she wanted so I asked, “What would be the perfect boyfriend thing to do?”

She mulled the question in her head.

I followed, “What would your girlfriends say in this situation?”

She imitated an imaginary friend, “Oh, how cute! It’s so wonderful! I wish I bought one too! Where did you get it?”

I kind of frowned. I told her if I said that, I would feel gay and fake–so fake that you could tell. I might as well say nothing. I continued, “I would never say that with my male friends so why would I say it to you?”

From what I gather, women will fake it too. I told her that sometimes when women do that to me, I feel like it’s fake and patronizing. Even as a little boy I felt that way. If an adult woman I hardly know says, “That’s a r-e-a-l-l-y cool G.I.Joe!” I sensed the fakeness. In college, I once made beans from a package to eat when I was at my girlfriends apartment. They were awful. Her roommate came home and asked what I made. I really didn’t want to tell her because what could be so interesting about making awful beans? She persisted, so I told her, “I made beans.” She says, “Oh, that sounds really good.” I just rolled my eyes. I wanted to tell her to shut the hell up; if you don’t have anything real to say don’t say it. Is it really empathy when the person you express it to thinks it’s fake or patronizing?

Now I joke with my girlfriend in these situations. In as girly as a voice I can: “Oh, how cute! Tell me right now where you bought it! I’m going to buy the store’s entire stock! I wish I knew who created it because I would adopt that person right now!” She usually slaps me on the shoulder.

I think women cause themselves a lot of grief because they look at men as nothing more than women with penises. I find it rare for a woman to embrace men as they are. When they do, I’m joyful. Instead, I hear how they complain a lot how we’re not like women. What do you want from us: a lover or one of the girls?

Reply

kristin April 16, 2009 at 12:16 am

was looking up on google, "why don't men show / feel empathy?" and your blog came up. I think it just makes me feel spiteful and angry that if he;s sick/sad/hurt/etc… i am THERE. I care so much i think about him all day, but if i'm struggling with ANYTHING…. it's…" huh… maybe you should try something else…" and once when i was sick with a 4 yr old alone at home with nothing to eat in the apartment, "i have a life, kris… i can't just come over there whenever you want me to". wow. so i feel you. i think it's just a sacrifice we have to make as women because i've yet to find a guy that has empathy for you once he has gotten you in bed/a relationship/ or where he feels secure that you're not leaving.

Reply

matthew April 17, 2009 at 5:01 am

People just want their needs met and generally want to feel secure about themselves. Often in relationships, we place our eggs in one basket and forget there's a magnitude of ways to get our needs met and feel reconnected.

We sometimes unfairly lean too much on our partners and then expectations begin to form. Soon we are scratching our heads in an effort to disprove the intensity of care and concern our partner holds for us in their own way of giving. Relationships break down and eventually dissolve.

I love and care about my wife deeply. Sometimes when she gets emotional I have a hard time connecting with her on that plane. I feel "powerless" to help her and that feeling creates a sense of frustration within me. This reaction may cause me to say something dismissive to diffuse my own emotional pressure and by that point any attempt to offer any emotional empathy is shot for a few days. At the same time, I'd lay on train tracks if it would save her life. Empathy is about emotion in that moment of now. Compassion is about the bigger picture of well being and I think they often get confused and misused.

In these types of male moments my logical self says , "if fixed, the issue can't reoccur and the emotions surrounding it will stop". Clever me can connect the dots!

Not really. The "problem" is always a mask to a greater need. When she says, "you don't ________", what she's really saying is "I need" to reconnect to myself. In the "emotional state" she's losing a connection with her own logical, cool and still self. She may feel powerless and confused and disconnected from the wise and conscious self and she needs help. How that plays out will depend on what portal of help she responds to.

Your touch, your kind words, your attentive listening (not to the words) may help her find her way back to her center. Peace is restored. Needs are filled and soon there's makeup loving around the corner.

It's hardly ever about the "object". It's about the overall objective of well being, which is to fill a need that connects us interdependently to our core, which is nothing more than pure love and compassion as one being.

I would have been emotionally upset if my child got hurt too. As a parent, I understand the need to feel secure about your child's well being. (be that physical in this case) You want to protect them from feeling pain or scared and confused. It is very painful to see them go through that, you can feel that immediate connection. You want to reach out to them and soothe them. Thankfully, suffering is impermanent.

I think the world would be a happier place if we all learned to give without the expectation of receiving. And if we owned our own feelings and learned healthier and fruitful ways to communicate that to one another. In my view, it's not a male or female issue, rather an issue of consciousness and unwillingness to accept the totality of differences. We want to love ourselves fully. When we cannot, we rely on partners to do then job and expect it to come in the form that we'd love our self if we only could. A need that never gets filled by the objectified world.

Reply

Monica December 24, 2010 at 8:30 am

Matthew

That was a fantastic post and I wholeheartedly agree with you about relationships having to meet a whole variety of needs, which they weren’t initially designed to meet.

There were some girlfriends of mine with whom I couldn’t talk about anything emotional and others who were brilliant; it’s not totally a gender thing, although there are differences.

I have three elder brothers and realise that talking to them about emotional stuff was a complete waste of time. They wanted to solve problems, BUT have me understand their emotional stuff, which doesn’t go down too well (I was tired of being an unpaid counselor to friends and family, was drained by it actually).

But what i now know is that i wouldn’t go to a butcher to buy bread! Don’t ask for emotional support for someone who isn’t designed to give it, whether maie or female and seek it from those who do.

But it has been my experience that men are more emotionally needy than women and need more reassurance. I do think that men implicitly expect and demand emotional support from women in a way that isn’t really an option with men. Putting on a “front” all of the time must be exhausting. However, those kinds of men aren’t that attractive to me and are rather exhausting to be with.

What i find works for me is to take care of my own needs. Which means meeting my needs for self care for eg, without expecting it to come from someone else. Putting my emotional and spiritual well being first is the best way to have a happy relationship with others. i’m not excessively needy with them, because I take care of my own stuff, leaving them to take care of their own stuff. And together we are more integrated rather than emotionally needy and dependent.

Reply

NotADad April 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

MsSingleMamma and friends, you may all be too young to remember the term SNAG, or Sensitive New Age Guy. It probably started for a brief time as an actual compliment back in the stiflingly, terrifyingly politically correct early 1980s, before the collapse of seperatist feminism. It wasn't many years before "SNAG" became a rather serious insult (it was comedic at first) , synonymous with "wimp". In many ways, the hardline feminists were the ones who torpedoed SNAGs in the first place, seeing no place for a men's movement and absolutely no role for the enemy in what was a kind of terrorist gender struggle.

Initially I tried hard to be a SNAG, since I very much liked intelligent arty young women and they tended to have feminist sensibilities. And I was half way there anyway, I don't have difficulties talking like a girl and understanding their alleged sensitivities (most often being stuff that's just all about *them*). In truth, I was part SNAG to begin with, and it helped me not one iota with women.

I eventually realized that SNAGS rarely get the girls. Instead, they end up being neutered pseudo girlfriends. This is well and good if you don't want a sexual relationship anyway. The more friends the merrier. However it is usually the kiss of death for an eventual sexual relationship to begin and then maintain a relationship with a young woman as a friend. Any sexual or romantic heat seems to evaporate from a woman's groin once a guy is in that category. You might be aching to hold and kiss her, but she already sees you as a girlfriend with an irrelevant dick (though it is unlikely that your dick is being thought about at all). You might as well sit around together and arrange pansies or talk girly things. You're screwed. In the words of Arnold The Terminator, you're a Girlyman. It's even worse if she knows that you pine for her and that you're oh-so-sensitive. You can even become pitied or (more likely) a convenient object to torment to help her feel better about herself. When SNAGs are gay they make even better girlymen friends, since then they are totally non threatening.

This doesn't mean a man should not be understanding and show some sensitivity – but it's better that he focus on landing her first and then show more of that side. Also, I know I'm wildly caricaturing here – for example I do think women get a *lot* more reasonable, realistic and fair about all this as they get older and much more desperate. And yes I think the experience of single motherhood would weaken this stereotypical view of men very slightly. I think it is much more likely for a male (probably not a SNAG though) to successfully metamorphose from friend to lover with a woman over 30yo. Same goes for older men – maturity gets rid of some of that manipulative game playing, we just can't be bothered with that silliness and are open to a much wider view of women – so long as they are hot – just kidding (sort of)! But we are also perhaps more impatient to get down and boogey. After all, we are running out of time.

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Perhaps you wouldn’t have such a hard time getting girls if you didn’t look at it as a sport, and were truly interested in loving a woman and having a faithful long term relationship with her. You come off as a guy who just wants to get with women for sex.

Reply

Robert B January 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Im a natural born empath. I have compassion for many people. I have many difficulties when it comes to romance, namely showing a girl i like her, but i am not lacking empathy. Feel free to change the tittle to “I don’t know any empathetic men.” I’d also like to take time out to thank you for stereotyping me.

Reply

Jared January 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

I agree brother. But don’t worry about the stereotyping, it’s the gold seal standard now, it’s a way of homogenizing and standardizing the world. To what end I’ll never know. It’s another way we’ve cheapened life, it’s due to change soon I think. I think it’s yet another case of people not communicating, or not making the effort to understand one another. As a natural empath, you know people on so many levels, but we’re talking about modern people, who are ungrounded and disconnected. It’s heart wrenching to be an empath and see how miserable and lost everyone is and to feel their fears. Fear not though, all will be worked out. Funny thing is, this nonsense would never be written by a female empathic, because they know what’s broken in all people. The same can be said about most women, about being selfish but believing their self deprecating relationships are somehow truly selfless (either playing the martyr or emptily giving for a superficial return) , while not realizing it is in fact self gratifying, with the expectation of a desired result. Until one gets it they will strongly disagree. If you want to throw stereotypes I don’t think there are too many women that don’t fit this flaw, it’s the same disconnection experienced in men only manifested differently.

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Wait, were you saying stereotyping is bad? So why are you stereotyping women? As an empath, shouldn’t you realize we’re all the same, and stereotyping is part of human nature, and not make such a big deal about it?

Reply

Jared January 22, 2010 at 11:29 am

You must have never met a male empath, or clairsentient. Problem is the men who buy into this world are unfortunately those who have lost their connection, same as the women that do the same. The men who are empathic, not empathetic (there’s a difference) are not generally walking around in crowded places and they sure aren’t acting like all the other males in the room. We are out in nature or in low key places, and since a good deal of women find the compression of constant contact with other people, seemingly at all costs, a necessary place to be to their own detriment, they will never meet any men that are balanced both intellectually, emotionally and physically. The modern world is not the right environment for it.
It is socially programmed, to turn off the switch for men, but if most men only knew that you are in fact weaker with no emotional connection to yourself and others than without, this would not be the case. Nobody said you have to express your emotions like women do. We aren’t all gay either or effeminate, or artsy. Though I actually am an artist, I’m also an engineer, former marine, and into almost all major gravity sport, by definition extremely masculine. But I can’t be in a crowded room without being overwhelmed, and I literally and profoundly feel others emotions at any distance from them. We all have this ability to varying degrees, like our five physical senses, but it’s more of an issue of how someone has come to understand their own universe, and how mindful they are of what’s going on inside and outside of them. Really, I feel bad for most modern humans, they’re missing the point on just about everything, close but so far away!

Reply

Billy February 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Very well said Jared I couldn’t agree more.

I am very masculine myself a powerlifter… surely not gay nor feminine nor do I consider myself the nice guy but do consider myself a mature good guy and know when to express my concerns toward others and I don’t do it to manipulate them either.

I do have a real concern for others even if don’t know them very well like the lady I mention in my other post.

Reply

Monica December 24, 2010 at 8:50 am

Jared

I am a female empath and agree with a lot of what you say, in that most people are ungrounded and disconnected from who they really are and as empaths, we can really pick up on it. I cannot take rooms filled with people all trying to impress others and whilst I live in a town (with quite a bit of green around me), now feel the urge to go somewhere even more quiet, away from the maddening crowd.

But disagree with you on one thing though……….

“since a good deal of women find the compression of constant contact with other people, seemingly at all costs, a necessary place to be to their own detriment, they will never meet any men that are balanced both intellectually, emotionally and physically. The modern world is not the right environment for it”.

I don’t think that it’s solely women wanting constant contact, having known both sexes who need the same (and as an empath I’m quite the opposite). But I’ve also discovered that men who say they want such balanced women intellectually, physically and emotionally, often find those women quite threatening as well, because they are not easy to read, being more inward looking and focused. Be careful what you wish for!

As much as you hate putting labels on others, i think that it’s more a case of temperament, rather than gender. It’s more to do with sensitivity (re: Elaine Aron’s the Highly Sensitive Person) and being an introvert, the jungian definition about needing plenty of downtime away from others to recharge your energy. Extroverts get energy from being around other people, both male and female.

But the modern world (by which I assume you mean western industrialised societies) does make it more difficult to stay grounded and connected when we are overstimulated and made fearful by every turn.

Reply

Billy February 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Was I being empathic when a lady with 3 kids told me after I asked how she was doing and she responded that her house burned down and lost everything and was the only one home at the time as her husband was away when she saved her kids and a pet from the fire?

I told her if she was OK and she said yes and was staying at a motel I further mentioned to loose everything the pictures those memories is hard and she said she would like to have the kids pictures back. The kids pictures seemed to be her greatest lost.

When she got ready to leave I put my hand on her shoulder and told her if she needed anything to let me know.

Was I being empathic and did I leave a good impression as a man?

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I’d say yes! :-)

Reply

lawofa April 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

The truth is, it is you who have no empathy for men. To suggest that men would lack empathy, a basic and fundamental trait of humanity, while only women are beholden of it, is the epitome of the thing you accuse men of.
There is nothing wrong with men. Men are as beautiful and wonderful as women. If you don’t agree, then don’t expect our empathies.

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Your anger seems to surpass your empathy.

Reply

Anonymous May 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm

what bugs me about men isnt that they lack empathy but that they expect perfection and empathy from women, when they lack so much sensititvity themselves. And if you so much as deviate from the perfect empathic women they despise you for it. It’s sick. I can make tea for the sick and put cold presses on someone’s forehead when they’re sick if necessary. But I expect to be taken care of the way I take care of others. I’ve told former boyfriends very bluntly that I take care of them and expect them to at least try to take care of me. And if they refuse to get a goddamn cup of tea once in a while, well, the relationship won’t go anywhere. I dont ask for it every day, but if it’s obvious I need it and there’s no offer or help, then you’re not with a gentleman, you’re with a selfish brute.

Yeah I’ll probably never get married. But at least I won’t get milked dry.

Reply

sasha2 June 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Im very confused by this whole ” Men need to learn how to feel empathy”.

I maybe completely off but…a normal healthy human being SHOULD and DOES feel empathy, and i think it’s odd to say that it is learned. Maybe in childhood, but by the time you’re an adult – you should be able to just feel it. THat’s how human societies survived and developed since prehistoric times – empathy for a fellow human being and dependace on each memeber of the tribe for survival.

The fact that men do not express empathy has more to do with societal conditioning than neurogical responce/biology.

Reply

Diane July 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I believe that men have varying degrees of empathy. My husband shows strong empathic responses to animals, children and other men. But not for women. We discussed this recently and he agreed this was the case. He said his biggest fear was that his boys are going to grow up and marry a woman like me, and yes, I’m not perfect. I’ve held onto resentment and struggled with reactive anger. And they may marry a woman who has some of the same issues as I have, but it feels much more painful to me that they would grow up unable to feel the depth of love due to a lack of empathy for women that they are learning from their father.

So I feel some hope that since he recognizes this in himself, he might be willing and/or able to learn to feel empathy for me and other women, for I feel without empathy, a deep sense of love is not possible, and this revelation explains so much about the difficulties in our marriage. I think that difficult relationships with a mother who abandoned him at age 3 (while keeping her older son) and a stepmother who pours on the phony emotions have hardened him against women. He is a good and sweet man overall, but the way his perception of me and inability to relate to me on any emotional level is very painful and disheartening.

Ladies, it’s true: let his relationship with his mother be your guide to how your relationship with him may materialize. If he hates the women he grew up with, avoid like the plague. Similarly, if he is overly doting on his mother or has no sense of boundaries in his adult life, not cool either. There’s a place somewhere in the middle of those that is healthy.

I’m not a single mom, yet. Your prayers, positive thoughts and love are welcome and appreciated. :)

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Diane, I’m really sorry you are with a man who doesn’t like women or finds no compassion for them. I think you would be happier without him, honestly. I hope two years on your life is more satisfying.

I am with a man who was adopted and thinks his adoptive mother was evil. He has had long term relationships with other women, so I think he’s trying to be good to other women…time will tell. He does concern me with what seems to be a lack of empathy sometimes.

Reply

Lee August 6, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Seems original poster is more upset that her husband showed HER little empathy, when the accident happened to her son. Plus, it’s not like the kid suffered a traumatic brain injury, a car wreck, etc..he broke a tooth. Nothing a dentist cant fix. There are many men who have empathy for the opposite sex, they just tend to show it through actions, based on paying attention, LISTENING. Guys who show their compassion & sensitivity too much get hosed by women who lack empathy for men & have no concept of how difficult it is for men to switch from being action-man to nurturing partner. Last woman I courted complained her ex just didnt get what she deals with, that most everyone has pity/sympathy, but it’s unsatisfying because they can’t relate. I did, I showed via word & deeds, I risked & put myself out there, & I got burnt big time. So yeah, it can make ya a lil cold & stingy w/ UR understanding when it’s taken for granted or used to hurt you..well, until you get wise to the realities of society. It’s ridiculous, & the boomer generation & movies/the media perpetuate it. Media tells us there’s always someone better around the corner & we are entitled to that greener pasture, a life of “ideal” love where we’re always understood, “perfection” is possible, & we always get what we want (often nurturing/acceptance denied us by our parents) w/o any difficulties. Only way anyone gets that is by staying alone..which can be healthy for awhile, but leads to mental illness for extended periods. We often learn things about ourselves via others. Ive said this before & believe it more & more..you should only be allowed to be married once. ONE shot, then you are legally barred from married life if you blow it. People would be alot less careless & there’d be alot of lawyers changing their adverts.

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Great post Lee! I totally agree that people keep hoping for a perfect relationship and give up too easily when troubles arise. I think what you did for that woman was the right thing. This is what makes love so hard, making yourself vulnerable—there’s no other way to feel and to give love. I encourage you to get to you your next partner well and try to figure out if she can be sensitive with you if you become vulnerable to her.

Reply

Lee August 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm

also, by some of OP’s statements about how men dont have empathy & not being able to multitask, Im getting an inkling why she’s a single mom in the first place. Can you imagine how I would be received if I said something like “women are great multitaskers, that’s why they tend to be horrible drivers”. Women get away with sexist comments far more often than men do. Whether a guy’s cognizant of it or not, it’s noticed subconsciously & that resentment does build. So, yes, forgive me, but the OP says things that are telling, just as I have in things I’ve said. Your boyfriend was trying to study. He took care of the problem first time. It was your turn to step up & handle it. You are teaching your son that being accident prone will get him attention..and you, by proxy. Nobody is willing to point this out, so I will.

Reply

Anonymous August 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Wow..

Reply

Aub9 December 10, 2010 at 8:25 am

Im struggling to understand the concept of “fixing the problem” as being an expression of empathy? It simply doesn’t make sense. A man

Reply

guitargirl January 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I had a one of a kind man, it’s becoming more obvious everyday, every relationship since him.

He was kind, considerate, worshipped the ground I walked on, treated me with respect, bragged about me to everyone, had time for anyone in need, was loving and sweet always, cooked for me, washed my clothes, was a fantastic lover, never a nag, never too busy to be there when I needed him. I so wish I could be with him.

Everyone since has been a dreadful disapointment. A bunch of boys with no regard for anything but their own needs and wants. I may be the only I’ve known in my life that has had the real deal. I treasure that but it is sheer torture to have it and lose it. He got cancer and died four years ago. I almost didn’t survive the pain, the resentment for life being so unfair that someone so loving could get cancer while monsters roam the earth and come out smelling like a rose. I’ve met three narcissists in a row. They go thier entire lives with no empathy, like vacuous vampires sucking the very life out of people.

Reply

new orleans hurricane evacuee January 20, 2011 at 8:52 am

ok,.,wow im a guy,,i have empathy,,,but remember you as awoman may be to emotionallly unstable…..forgive me ladies,,i am a married man,,11 years….ok..i think he may be allof cuse he aint in love with you,,,but remember this you women do have the habit of speaking in subtle ,questions all day long.maybe what you need to be more direct with m,en,,,most women talk about non important things like its raing in china,,and the sky is blue ,,,who cares?just tell me what u want ,,why and how,,,i think u as a female are still seeing,,hearing everything with your heart instead of your mind,,,,thats a fatal mistake most women just want to hear sweet words all day long,,to feel,,,,,,,feel good,,,remember feeling good dont always mean youare good,,,,,some people have cancer and feel good,,and look good………….tell m,e this womenouthere,,,,,what is there arule book that men have to live up to your emotional level? maybee you need to be more of a logical thinker,,instead of emotional thinker.our emotions can trick us,,,were humans,,,cold heat hunger,,can affect our emotions so here i am sure that ur emotions arent happy becuse u want TO HEAR NICE words that you feel are empathy….ok what if a man did liev up to,,spaek show empathy and he didnt really mean it?…………most young women whom havent foiund who they are a s women normally want men to say sweet talk to them all day even whenits not truth,,,then when u women find out its not true u get hurt,,,,,my question comment is then,,,,,,,why dont you 1st define empathy,,,learn who u are as women,,then u realize inur heart that ur happiness..emapthy comes from your own self..not from a man…………example should u expect a man to cry over a dead puppy in da street?come on now reallly,,,,if u want that amount of empathy,,then should u marry a femel? no ,,im saying that to forceu to think with mental logic ,,rather haert felt logic….also be honest with yourself,,do u know what u want out of life? do u know when ure in love,,,how can u steal a mans heart?,are u the type of girl who thinks u can talk to a guy in 3 hrs ,,u know everything bout this man?….did u have atrue honest realtionship with ur father? was it loving,,caring supporting too?ok my answer,,,yes men can do,,will feel empathy,, but when you find it,,feel our empathy you cant recognize it becuse most females are in a relationship for the wrong reasons,,,,and besides when we show empathy its never good enough,,as mmost insecure women complain,,,,if u complain,,or become quiet as a church mouse then no normal man will show empthy to u,,becuse you dont respond to his empathy ,,instead u may stand around quiet waiting for a better answer,,sweet talk? as u throw hints,,,mindgames at your husband?its true,,,,ok,,,men got issues toooo..soem just dont care ,,and u cant force them,,its free will issue..maybee he dont love u….its not ur fault i respect u..but why have u never confronted him about this question?is it that he is insensitive? or u are illogical person?dont u have female intuition why dont u use ur female intuition to communicate and resolve this? ohhhhhhh ure too scared? ok then u dont deserve 2 be in a relationship,,,,go find out who ,,and who u are not as a woman,,,,only u complete ur life not a nother person.its not my repeosibility to fix ur life its yours1so go fix it.

Reply

new orleans hurricane evacuee January 20, 2011 at 8:59 am

hey guitar girl,,i play the violin arabic style……i love it,,alll the wrong typees of hormonal women attempt to follow me all day if i make the mistake of walkin with my violin its crazy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,anyway my point,,please dont feel all men are that way,,,,its sad,,most are imature,,,but there are good men. i felt the same way about women but it took time for me to study womens nature and my own self as a man,,it takes time..

Reply

Julian April 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I`m a teenager and I truly feel empathy since i was little and and i`m heterosexual i know people thought too

Reply

Daroo June 19, 2011 at 10:32 am

This is so sexist it makes me cry

Reply

nicholas July 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

No no… Women don´t want men who talk about emotions and feel. That´s what they have friends for. They want a man who can give them a good pounding and provide them with money and security. Everything else is just fantasies or a kind of slut denial mechanism. No, I don´t have a relationship with mike because of the good sex. It´s because our talks are sooo special and emotional! Yeah… Riiiiight….

Reply

nicholas July 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

That emotionless guy already knew that he was unable to do anything about the dental injury. It´s not like he is a dentist am I correct?
He probably knew that it would just seem kind of stupid to ask if he could do something when there clearly was nothing he could do. Straightforward guy I say. I prefer that kind of person over the emotional over empathetic people who can´t do squat when it comes down to things. But yes… It´s a great skill to have nonetheless if you want to manipulate people.

Reply

4blossoms September 14, 2011 at 3:18 am

I think gender/social conditioning plays a big part in how empathetic women and men are. Girls are expected to care for and nurture others, so we have been encouraged to develop our empathy skills. Boys are raised to be tough and fearless, so are discouraged from developing their empathy skills. My last therapist was a woman who had very little empathy. She couldn’t care less about how I dealt with some tragic family issues. I stopped seeing her and might return to the male therapist I had before her, who was more empathetic and genuinely wanted to help me. So, yes, we shouldn’t stereotype, but, yes, it’s also true that gender socialization causes males to feel less empathy and females to feel more empathy for others.

This male therapist also happened to be gay. It seems that gay men feel more comfortable exploring and accepting their feminine selves. If more straight men were to equally open themselves up and explore their nurturing, feminine side, there would be fewer relationship problems for men and women. It’s also necessary that women embrace and accept the feminine qualities of a man as well. I know many women who insist on dating only ‘manly’, masculine men. Yet, when we date these masculine men we find that the relationship is an emotional vacuum because men have suppressed qualities of caring, nurturing, and empathy in a misguided effort to achieve some kind of hyper-masculinized ideal and to please those women that foolishly believe they want this.

Reply

anna October 31, 2011 at 9:31 am

The part of the brain which handles empathy is smaller, less-developed in men than in women. I’ve also heard that men become more sensitive as their testosterone declines with age…

Reply

eirc December 19, 2011 at 9:05 pm

it just dawned on me, all my major ex girlfriends lacked “empathy”! yeah, they would do the right thing and feel bad for starving kids in Africa; but when it came to stepping back and thinking about how they treated me, they just couldn’t do it.

just got dumped by a single mom, she gave me the cold shoulder for 2 months. she email dumped me (classy), cuz i insulted her with a email that had info on the physiological effects of the “cold shoulder” (that’s right Ladies, emotional abuse)

she might have wanted empathy from me, cuz her kid just got some major medical problems, i had empathy for them in my heart, but if she outed me from of her life, then she wasn’t getting empathy from me! she can tell someone in her life about her problems, cuz i was reduced to a mere stranger. empathy is reciprocal!

Reply

Scattered January 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

If empathy defines your morality, then your morality is conditional to only those you can empathise with.

Empathy is narcissistic, others peoples pain matters because you yourself feel a measure of it. How would a person driven by empathetic feeling respond if that empathy wasn’t there, they wouldn’t care. Specifically both men and women have limited capacity for empathy toward male suffering.

Men have less need for empathy because their morality is a generally a rigid framework of right and wrong, impartial and logical. I know something is bad or wrong even if my feeling and empathy toward it is limited. This allows for the making hard and uncomfortable choices despite opposing empathetic sentiments. Such decisions or necessary for successful leadership.

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Haha, you’re funny in your delusion of having it all figured out.
Empathy narcissistic? No, empathy is as far away from narcissistic as you can get. When you feel for others, it’s all about them, it’s not about you.

Reply

Gwen December 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm

‘Bad’ and ‘Wrong’ are, in moral terms, innately irrational because they are subjective. Rigid does not mean correct. I could rigidly state that 2 + 2 = 5, and state that to high heaven, but nothing in the world would make that correct. I would also gladly state that the appearance of impartiality is just that. An appearance. One simply cannot remove oneself from bias, period. You just change the nature of the bias, rather than destroy it.

However, I do agree that empathy can cause differing behaviors from what otherwise might be called rational. Yet to divorce oneself from emotion, to say that emotion or empathy are impractical, is just changing the measure by which we judge actions. The primary problem is the individual, rather than collective, subjectivity of empathy.

Reply

luke April 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm

maybe because we realise that it’s your child that’s in pain and that we care more about helping the person in pain rather than you

Reply

AM May 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Anyone else noticed all these angry responses from men?

How catty!

Reply

Tired man September 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I do not think that it is true at all that men cannot empathize. I will say we have different ways of going about it though. I personally take a longer approach to things and think it through before saying anything about it. As was said men try to find a solution and many times we show we care through helping not talking or we as afraid it will be “GAY” so yah, just try to look at it through eyes like we sometimes have to. It is maddening when there is a problem and women call their girl friends to (for lack of better words) cry with them about it. It is some thing that needs to be compromised on. Sometimes we give you a shoulder to cry on and comforting words and sometimes you steel up and get through the current crisis

Reply

Samuel Butler September 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hi all,
I personally think that the majority of men cannot feel empathy. This is scientifically proven as usually Women have higher Oxytocin rates than men. Oxytocin is a natural chemical found inside the human body, that basically makes you feel empathy. But, this does not mean men don’t feel empathy. Truth is, anyone with Oxytocin in their body can feel empathy.
I believe that empathy doesn’t just have to be inherited or whatever it scientifically is; I believe it can be environmentally added to our ‘genes’ if you have it.

Reply

A Wish and a Prayer November 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I came to this page hoping to find an answer, and am leaving more saddened at the seemingly futile situations presented. I believe men do feel empathy, but are resolved to find solutions. Having said that, if a man is presented with the problem of needing to show his love by responding empathetically to his significant other, should he not strive to achieve this?

The nature of love is such that there should be a mutual respect for feelings. If he chooses not to show his concern, then is he not withholding love? Is it unreasonable for a woman to want honest emotional support from a man? Is it wrong to expect a hug as a solution? Would that not be the quickest fix? To me, love means knowing what the other needs and doing your best to give it to them.

Reply

Velvet November 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Emotionally have been disturbed for a while and i came to a conclusion that i was not meant to love and possible die of loneliness…..i tried all i could to get my ex

back but all to no avail
Alot of people here have been writing good things here on TOPIX about professor Lucy
initially i never belived and of the posts and testimonials cos have once fallen victim to a fake spellcaster but the real mind in me gave it a trial
i contacted him and he said some prayers for me and that was the begining of the solutions to my problems
in a nut shell,my ex who happened to be the mother of my child came back to me after 7 days of the prayers
professor Lucy is simply the most powerful spell caster one can ever trust
you can also contact him if you are having the same type of predicament,contact him via :spirituallove@hotmail.com

Reply

Gwen December 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I don’t know, this suggests a very unilateral view of empathy. Feel MY pain, be interested in ME. It doesn’t imply the author will put herself in HIS shoes, for instance. Ever been really reading something and someone interrupts you? If you don’t see their obvious distress (if its not hugely obvious, say hysterics) and they tell you an ambivalent story – like a broken tooth – why should they know what you want? And why are you not capable of understanding or empathizing with their confusion?

Imagine if a guy told you his favorite team lost a really, really important game. You might say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, thats terrible.’ A nice, generic response. But do you really understand his utter devastation, the strange vicarious hopes he placed in those players? Empathy IS the ability to relate to something, and without common backgrounds there will be miscommunications. Men simply do not physically feel pain as acutely as women do. No kidding. So telling them someone is in pain is less meaningful. Thats why they relate to the balls kicking and not the tooth.

Heck, I wouldn’t know what to say about the tooth. I wouldn’t have known it would hurt. Why would I? I’ve never broken teeth, I’ve never had crowns, I’ve never known someone who has. I’d assume it’d just look funny or come out. It doesn’t mean I lack empathy, I just lack relevant information.

Reply

jo jo January 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I have read that men lack empathy because emotion is not their best area of communication and they don’t like to do things they feel they’d fail at, so they get into the habit of pushing their own emotions away and in doing so cannot deal with yours. The process of empathy to them is needless and not practical and does not deal with the problem it is simply ‘lip service’. Reassurance is not what floats their boat, they like trust and appreciation and that’s it – have you have read Venus & Mars?

Reply

David August 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

Men can feel empathy; however, it is not their first instinct. Their first instinct is to “fix it”. In the above example, during the first emergency, the bf was on the phone in two seconds making an appointment with the dentist and saving the day. That was how he dealt with it and contributed. Men have a tendency to think first and feel second whereas the opposite is true with women. Of course, that is a very generalized statement and there are men and women who don’t fit this characteristic at all. Just listen to everyday speech patterns and you will hear men using “think” words and women using “feel” words. Men generally don’t take the time to figure this out and it leads to feelings of frustration when they think they are being supportive. They are, in their own way, just not usually in the empathetic sense.

Reply

Ace Temptura January 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm

As long as we live in a society (vs a tribe) there will be strong flight-or-fight aversion to contravening what is called the sexual division of labor. It’s not really a question of whether men CAN feel empathy, of course they can. It’s a question of whether it is proper, or even permitted to feel empathy. Although many people don’t realize it, everything about us, including our bodies, emotions, thoughts, and actions, is very strictly defined and limited by the invisible force of social conditioning. Even our emotions are not really under our control. This is how the great architects of society intend it to be. The structure of modern societies does not require that men show empathy; I’d say it is a privilege of powerful men, men who can afford to go beyond what society asks of them, to be able to express this essential human trait. In the end, all I’m saying is don’t confuse physiological capacity for empathy with the expression of that capacity; even if you don’t find a single man who is empathetic in your entire lifetime, that doesn’t mean they are incapable of it.

Reply

Daniel June 27, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I think most women lack empathy. Think about it. Most women want to get married, right? But what does marriage accomplish? It’s an exercise in futility that ends up tearing the man’s balls through his wallet (nine out of ten times). Would an empathetic woman want her “lover” to risk financial ruin for her sake? I don’t think so.

Reply

Leave a Comment