Showing empathy in relationships

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beezy
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31 Jan 2012, 12:38 pm

Grisha wrote:
Unlike sympathy and compassion, empathy is a skill, not a virtue - a skill which, by definition, many people on the spectrum are poor at.


This got me wondering whether empathy is a prerequisite for compassion or the other way around.

Empathy can lead to compassion but you can also have compassion for something out of self interest, and not be empathizing with it fully. Sometimes I'm not sure if I lack empathy or if I'm really losing interest in who I'm dating.

izzeme wrote:
i use my (aspie) eye for detail and change for empathy; once i know a person better, i have established some kind of 'behavorial baseline', if i then see them behaving differently, i know something is wrong, and i use a combination of memory of such changes (in the same or other persons) and the direct question "anything wrong?" to figure out what is actually the matter, after which i can use my training in showing emotions to force visible empathy.

no, i do not fake it, i do feel empathy for my friends, all i have to force is the outward appearance of it.


Good advice.



NicoleG
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31 Jan 2012, 12:39 pm

I think of empathy as a skill that can be learned, but it takes practice to not sound like ELIZA (click link for reference). However, as that wiki page mentions, asking simple questions and just being there for the other person is sometimes all it takes to display empathy. Also, just because it's a skill, it has to be backed by true compassion and care about the other person. The last thing you want is for them to think you are faking concern. Don't display empathy merely because it's the socially acceptable thing to do when someone is upset. THAT is faking it. As long as you really care that the other person is having a bad day and you'd like for them to be having a better day, then the empathy part is just figuring out different ways to show them that you care.

I think the hardest part for me is that I do really care, but I'd rather be playing a video game than trying to help them work through whatever it is they are working through - hence the lack of empathy aspect. Trying to get over being selfish of my time is sometimes a struggle.



mv
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31 Jan 2012, 12:42 pm

beezy wrote:
This got me wondering whether empathy is a prerequisite for compassion or the other way around.

Empathy can lead to compassion but you can also have compassion for something out of self interest, and not be empathizing with it fully. Sometimes I'm not sure if I lack empathy or if I'm really losing interest in who I'm dating.



Oooh, very interesting! I will say this about myself: I can find something much easier to empathize with only if I've been through something similar. Otherwise, it's like those pathways shut down. Exception: something grand in scale, like the WTC terrorism. I think everyone walked around for a week feeling like they got hit in the face with a frying pan. Even then, if you've ever experienced death of someone close to you, maybe that can inform all empathy "transactions" in the future.

Okay, now I'm rambling. :oops:



NicoleG
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31 Jan 2012, 12:45 pm

Also, I have had people I have been a shoulder for, but they just seem to keep going on and on and on. Their lives seem to go from one catastrophic (to them) event to another. For these folks, I feel bad about it, but I've gotten to where I will choose to play on my games and let someone else handle them than to spend way too much time listening to someone that just can't get over themselves.

EDIT: I will eventually run out of give-a-care after a while, so I also don't feel bad when I stop reading people's journals and such so that I can have some time to recharge myself. Some people seem to have an unlimited supply of compassion, and that's great for them, but I learned a long time ago to not try to keep up with them, because I can't.



fraac
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31 Jan 2012, 1:22 pm

It's a feeling and it's unlike anything you would normally experience except during sex. I can't recommend MDMA enough to prime autistics for close relationships.



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31 Jan 2012, 2:40 pm

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Last edited by The-Raven on 31 Jan 2012, 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

beezy
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31 Jan 2012, 3:26 pm

mv wrote:
Oooh, very interesting! I will say this about myself: I can find something much easier to empathize with only if I've been through something similar. Otherwise, it's like those pathways shut down. Exception: something grand in scale, like the WTC terrorism. I think everyone walked around for a week feeling like they got hit in the face with a frying pan. Even then, if you've ever experienced death of someone close to you, maybe that can inform all empathy "transactions" in the future.

Okay, now I'm rambling. :oops:


The most interesting thing in this thread for me is that a lack of empathy doesn't sound as divisive as I thought it would. Despite not relating to some of the issues the other has, a lack of empathy seems more like something Aspies can consciously address in a relationship, if the will is there, rather than be something that causes inequality (from the other making extra effort to compensate for missing interest from the Aspie partner), tension and a loss of interest from one side, or mutually.

I want to try MDMA at some point but you've got to be careful with it. There are some bad long-term side affects you can get from it.



Frieslander
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04 Feb 2012, 12:54 pm

Came to this thread b/c I heard Grisha was temporarily bannned.... this was the last thread he posted in... interesting thread.

I really have a hard time telling myself I lack empathy.

Someone in the thread said they wondered if empathy is a prerequisite for compassion or vice versa. People--especially my brother and my mom--tell me that I am a very compassionate person. On the other hand, the psychologist who did my ASD testing said only in the 3rd percentile of of the general public with the type of empathy that people with ASD are missing.

I read my brother, dad, and mom very well... or at least I know how they are feeling based on what tone of voice they have.



NicoleG
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04 Feb 2012, 1:26 pm

Frieslander wrote:
I read my brother, dad, and mom very well... or at least I know how they are feeling based on what tone of voice they have.


I don't think of empathy as being able to properly read someone, but as a means of being able to express my own concern. I think of attention as being able to read or not read someone. If I'm being attentive, I can usually read someone. If my mind is somewhere else, as it often is, then that's when I'm unlikely to notice how the other person is displaying their feelings and emotions. It's not that I don't care as much as I'm not paying attention. I'm probably backwards in my thinking about it, but that's how I view it.



fraac
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04 Feb 2012, 2:07 pm

beezy wrote:
I want to try MDMA at some point but you've got to be careful with it. There are some bad long-term side affects you can get from it.


Not really. It's one of the safest drugs there is. You can buy online now.



Frieslander
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04 Feb 2012, 4:49 pm

NicoleG wrote:
Frieslander wrote:
I read my brother, dad, and mom very well... or at least I know how they are feeling based on what tone of voice they have.


I don't think of empathy as being able to properly read someone, but as a means of being able to express my own concern. I think of attention as being able to read or not read someone. If I'm being attentive, I can usually read someone. If my mind is somewhere else, as it often is, then that's when I'm unlikely to notice how the other person is displaying their feelings and emotions. It's not that I don't care as much as I'm not paying attention. I'm probably backwards in my thinking about it, but that's how I view it.


I think I express my own concern well, too. I think the differences that Aspies and other people with ASD's are that people with ASD's often don't know why people feel as they do.



Frieslander
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04 Feb 2012, 5:09 pm

Here is the definition, according to my Webster's computer dictionary:

*****

1. the projection of one's own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts, or feelings
2. the projection of one's own personality into an object, with the attribution to the object of one's own emotions, responses, etc.

*****

People with ASD's have difficulties with the part before the semicolon of number one, but I don't think we necessarily have difficulty with the second part.



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19 Mar 2012, 10:11 pm

Here is an example from a relationship between NT and an Aspie:
NT says; Man, its alot of household chores today, I wonder if I can do them all in time before we get guests.
Aspie; (silent)
The NT does all the work while being really frustrated and somewhat angry at the Aspie for not offering to help. She thinks he must have realized she had too much to do, and that what she said was her way of asking him to help.

But in reality, the Aspie didn't pick up on her frustration, didn't pick up on her hints, and therefore didn't feel empathy with her frustration and didn't feel the need to help out.

The solution; NTs must express their feelings clearly. And if they want help, go ahead and say so.

Or the Aspie can try to learn that from now on when a situation exactly like that arises, he will ask her if she needs help. The problem with this latter solution is that Aspies have a hard time transferring relevanse from one social situation to the next, and therefore will not pick up on that hint if its a slightly different situation.

I read in a book that a color chart can be a great help in translating feelings between an NT and an Aspie. e.g red = angry at someone else, orange = angry at you, purple = frustrated etc. If the NT could say to the Aspie; "I am a purple 10"(1 being slightly frustrated, and 10 being as frustrated as can be), then the Aspie would be able to relate, and possibly also empathize e.g. feel the same feeling, and therefore have an urge to do something about that feeling by helping out with the chores.


_________________
AQ: 42/50 || SQ: 32/80 || IQ(RPM): 138 || IRI-empathytest(PT/EC/FS/PD): 10(-7)/16(-3)/19(+3)/19(+10) || Alexithymia: 148/185 || Aspie-quiz: AS 133/200, NT 56/200