Emotional Intelligence skills for men who lack empathy in relationships

Noemi J. Mullins

You may have tried to express your emotions to a family member, friend, or partner. However, you felt dismissed or misunderstood. This can be confusing and hurtful. You may have difficulty connecting emotionally. It’s not unusual for men to have trouble in their relationships if they lack empathy. Everyone who feels unheard and every couple that fights needs empathy.

This emotional intelligence skill should be at the forefront of all communication, whether you are trying to improve your relationship with yourself or your partner.

Empathy is the EQ’s ability to understand and share the feelings of other people. It is the foundation for human connection. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) isn’t a fixed intelligence like IQ. It is a set of skills that are developed in the same way as muscles can be built by exercising at the gym. Empathy can be created and learned.

It’s not for everyone, especially men.

This exploration will focus on the reasons why men struggle with empathy. We will shed light on causes, signs, and impacts for men who lack empathy. We will also provide emotional intelligence tools to help men and their families cultivate this important skill.

Why do some men lack empathy?

The reasons for a lack of empathy, or its complexity, are many. Understanding the reasons men lack empathy can help to improve relationships and foster stronger emotional connections. These underlying causes can also be used to identify areas of growth and development in those lacking empathy.

The level of empathy in men is influenced by three main factors: social expectations, biological factors, and upbringing. These three factors influence a man’s capacity to share and understand the feelings of other people, thereby affecting their level of overall empathy.

Social Expectations and Pressures

In many cultures, social expectations and norms have a major impact on men’s emotional behaviors. Men are taught to place logic above emotion, causing a disconnect with their emotional selves. Men are often told to “buck up” and suppress their feelings. Showing emotion, especially the more vulnerable kind, is seen as a weakness. This cultural norm discourages men from expressing themselves and from seeking emotional support.

Men’s empathy can be negatively affected by social pressures. Compassionate sympathy can be significantly hindered by suppressing emotions and avoiding emotional support. Understanding, feeling, and responding to the emotions of others is part of human empathy. Due to social norms, this type of empathy is difficult for men. To appear strong, men often minimize both their feelings and those of others.

It doesn’t seem fair at all. It’s not fair that we toughen up our boys and then expect them to have empathy and to be tender towards their girlfriends and wives. In my years of working with couples, I have found that women compare the level of empathy their male partners show with the empathy their girlfriends and mothers give them. That’s a great deal of pressure! Men can care deeply but do not know how they should express that love. Empathy is not a prerequisite for love.

Childhood Education

The upbringing of a man can have a significant impact on his ability to be empathetic. The environment of the family, especially how emotionally nurturing parents are, can influence a man’s ability to share and understand others’ feelings and encourage him or discourage him from developing empathy.

Men may develop empathy deficits when a supportive emotional atmosphere is not present during childhood. Due to emotional neglect and trauma in childhood, this deficiency can manifest as low empathy or a decreased EQ. An emotionally immature parent can sometimes deny their child’s feelings. This sends the wrong message to a child about how we feel.

In contrast, positive experiences with empathy, nurturing, compassion, emotional mirroring, and emotional coaching in childhood can lead to a healthier emotional expression and more empathetic behaviors as an adult.

Factors Biological

Empathy can be affected by biological factors such as brain chemistry and genetics. A person’s temperament, such as a low level of sensitivity, a mild emotional intensity, and an analytical and serious nature, can make empathizing more difficult. Studies show that men are more likely to empathize than systemize. Plus, any tendency toward the autism spectrum can make it difficult to tune out the cues required for this EQ ability.

The ability to communicate with others is affected by the individual’s struggle to process and interpret emotions. Poor listening skills can be a sign of a lack of empathy, which makes it hard to empathize and understand others.

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Signs that a person lacks empathy

The first step to solving the problem is to identify the signs. People with low empathy may:

  • Do not dismiss or minimize the emotions of others.
  • You may have difficulty understanding emotional cues.
  • Don’t be too critical, judgemental, or defensive.
  • Focusing on one’s own goals and needs at the expense of others.
  • React to stressful or emotional situations.
  • Appear uninterested or disengaged and emotionally disconnected.
  • Maintain healthy friendships and relationships.

A common sign of inability to maintain romantic relationships is difficulty maintaining a relationship. Men who lack empathy are more likely to switch partners due to unresolved conflict, a lack of connection, and unhappiness.

What is the impact of a lack of empathy in relationships?

An empathy deficit, also known as empathy disorder, can negatively affect relationships and increase:

  • misunderstandings
  • There are no conflicts.
  • The emotional distance between partners
  • dissatisfaction
  • Instability in a relationship

Asking your partner what they would think in a situation similar to the one you are experiencing can help encourage empathy. Empathizing with your partner will also help when they are having a difficult day or receive bad news. Empathizing with someone who hasn’t been through something is difficult.

These responses help partners develop empathy and a better understanding of their partner’s feelings. Empathy can be enhanced by being attuned to your partner’s feelings.

How men can develop empathy

Empathy can be improved and learned. Self-reflection and active listening are all ways men can develop empathy. They should also practice expressing their feelings. Understanding their emotions and relating to others’ experiences can help men improve their social interactions.


Empathy can be developed through self-reflection. Understanding one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can help men better relate to other people’s experiences and emotions.

Mindfulness / Mindful presence

Mindfulness can help people develop empathy. It allows them to tune in to their emotions and see how they impact their relationships. Different exercises help men to understand other perspectives better and develop stronger emotional connections.

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