Roommate Empathy- Haley Rositano

By, Haley Rositano

Recently, one of my roommates has been particularly moody and controlling. If  something is not done her way or to her specific liking, she will blow up on my other roommates and I.  This weekend, I had to take a step back and realize that there was a reason why she has been acting so irrationally.  A few days ago, she and her boyfriend of two years broke up abruptly. She was devastated and it was extremely painful to watch and attempt to help her through. Instead of snapping back like I usually would, I instead decided to sit back and let her freak out for a little bit while also asking my other roommates to put themselves in her shoes. If it were me, I would be acting out because it would be so hard to find out what my new “normal” was. You could tell that she was visibly shaken up the entire weekend, and all of my roommates were aware of the situation. She also has a mild case of OCD, and being a Psychology major I understand that there are things she does and reactions she has to particular household situations that are out of her control. So when you combine a horrible break-up with certain personality traits that are apart of her nature, the reasons behind some of her actions become clear. The alternative to empathy is sympathy, but sympathy says something like “oh everyone goes through this” or “I feel so sorry for you” which can honestly make things worse more times than not. On the other hand, by using empathy you’re letting the person know that you understand what they’re going through and you’re “with them.” Everyone’s situation and lives are different, and that means that every individual is also different in the way they react to specific events that occur in their lives.  By understanding this, it will become easier for individuals to relate to one another instead of getting angry and only elevating the negative emotions that may be at play.

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