I don't think that one has empathy when one decides to cheat. They do it because they want to. No empathy there because they would have to STOP what they are doing to empathize with the person they are hurting.
My very simple take on this is that a BS has such a different head space that it just really does not occur to them, they just cannot fathom doing the same to their WS, so therefore we twist ourselves up into a million pieces to figure out some kind of saving grace, whether it is some form of "empathy" as you say here or some form of apology or true R, if that were to happen in your situation. I do believe that it is possible for a WS to change if they truly want to, but the act of it at the time as no empathy, IMO.
However I do think we struggle with trying to find some good in what is a truly bad thing, especially if we have decided to try to stay with our own WS. To find some good or something of any kind of redemption that allows us to stay w this person. We try to see some kind of empathy within them, otherwise it would be extremely hard to stay, they would be essentially evil, which is hard to swallow.
It's that old saying that who we feel are "good people" can still do "bad things". Take a teacher who has sex w a minor, take a priest who has sex w a young boy, take anyone who works within a church yet cheats on his or her spouse on the side, take anyone of authority who uses that position to cheat or steal or rape behind their spouses back. It can be anyone who "looks" to the outside world as a good and upright person, but not be so good behind the scenes.
Their empathy may be towards themselves, meaning they watch what people need or want and then try to do it as a way to look like they empathize, but not really feeling empathy, they just want to seem like they are a good person. True empathy does not need anyone to give you a pat on the back, you do it because you should.
Not sure if that makes sense.... just babbling.
Stop expecting loyalty from people who cannot even give you honesty.
He stopped being my husband the first time he cheated. It took me awhile to understand that I was no longer his wife.