How Empathy Affects Your Love Life

Want to spice up your romance? Look inside yourself for a minute. If you can honestly say that you possess both empathy and self-esteem, you have the foundation for a wonderful love life. If, however, you find yourself not only with poor self-esteem but also irritable and unforgiving with your partner, chances are the two of you don't have the warmest, sexiest relationship ever.

"Self-esteem is definitely huge in this area," says Lisa Rene Reynolds, Ph.D., author of  Parenting Through Divorce: Helping Your Kids Thrive During and After the Split. "When a person's self-esteem is compromised, it almost always is evident in the bedroom."

Feeling bad about oneself leads to a lack of confidence, she explains. Having a positive self image just makes a person feel, well, sexier.

Empathy is essential too, Reynolds says. "When I see people having a poor sex life, they are typically nagging each other," she explains.

If you want to kick your love life up a notch, consider:

1. While low self-esteem can make you feel inadequate and unattractive, you can change things around so you have a more positive outlook (though it's not easy).  "Reframe your thinking so it's more positive," advises Irene S. Levine, Ph. D, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. "Your partner can check in with you to make sure you aren't viewing things negatively and can serve as a reality check."

2. Work on developing empathy simply by really listening to (and hearing) your partner. "If you can actually hear what the person is trying to tell you about where they really are, it's helpful," Reynolds says. "Listening is the one thing couples notoriously don't do. They think they know what they heard so they don't really listen to each other anymore."

3. Communicate to your partner what is disappointing to you, Levine says. "Perhaps revise your expectations so they're more realistic, and determine why you are resentful," she suggests. "If the person's behavior is having an adverse effect on you, you may need to see if you are asking too much of him or her."

4. Learn to relinquish control, Levine says. "Allow the other person to be responsible for some decisions and actions in the relationship," she advises. "And keep things in perspective. Don't magnify the importance of little things that go awry." Learn to forgive mistakes and imperfections. Remember, no one's perfect, and no two people always see things the same way.