Loving relationships are built on strong foundations.
What that means to you and your partner will vary – it might mean having similar worldviews, a powerful mutual attraction, or it could be a level of openness and honesty that allows for serious communication
Whatever it may be, one component of all healthy relationships is support. Without support, a relationship is barely even a relationship. After all, two people who don’t support each other, even if they spend a lot of time together and have strong sexual chemistry, are not exactly destined for decades of wedded bliss. And a lack of support doesn’t necessarily mean the other person’s tearing you down (or vice versa) – it just means they’re not there for you when you need it.
1. Traits of a Supportive Partner
It’s impossible to list all the different ways a partner can be supportive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tease out certain threads, trends and traits that tend to come with the territory.
A supportive partner gives you honest, but kind, feedback,вЂќ says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love TodayвЂќ A supportive partner listens. When you have something to say, even if it’s about something you’re unhappy with in your relationship, you can be sure your partner will listen and work with you to come up with a solution.вЂќ
And what does being a supportive partner entail?
Your partner needs you most when they’re dealing with self-doubt, so raise your antenna for those moments,вЂќ says dating coach Connell Barrett. The dead giveaway? They use вЂwhat if’ statements: вЂWhat easily fail the work interview?’ or вЂWhat easily can’t complete this project promptly?’ Swoop in and tell your spouse three magic words: вЂYou got this,’вЂќ Barrett says. And inform them why, with specifics. It offers them a feeling of certainty and confidence they need and want in a relationship.вЂќ
If you are in a relationship with a supportive partner, it is possible to sense it to the stage that it’ll manifest itself through the way you act. You’ll arrived at them together with your problems and ask because of their help. You’ll admit it in their mind once you screw up plus they won’t judge or be cruel. You can inform them about your successes, too, as you know they’ll cheer you on instead of getting jealous.
Being in a relationship with a supportive partner is similar to having a coach, teammate and a cheerleader all in a single.
2. What Does too little Support Look Like?
Similar to the presence of support, the lack of support can come in many different ways.
It might mean they won’t listen when you’ve had a negative day, or they elect to ignore rather than comfort if you are sad.
It may be a hit-and-miss thing, meaning their show of support is inconsistent. Which could mean they arrive to view your team play, but never help with the grocery bill. Maybe they defend you against a family group member’s hurtful comments, but turn around and tell you firmly to suck it up at your dead-end job.
Barrett believes probably the most worrisome way somebody could be non-supportive is in situations when it’s needed most.
Your lover is non-supportive once the st hits the fan plus they hit the street,вЂќ he says. Should they disappear during those big life moments – a ailment, the death of someone you care about or a pet, employment loss – that is clearly a huge red flag Being non-supportive can occur in more mundane ways. If they are dismissive of hearing about your day, and always redirect the conversation back to them, that excessive self-interest is a sign of a lack of support.вЂќ
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of effort – they’re simply not putting in the effort to make you feel cared for. However, that doesn’t mean it’s something they can’t do, so if you feel like you’re missing that support, now’s the time to bring it up.
3. What to Do If You’re Not Feeling Supported
Having real conversations in a relationship where you tell your partner that you’re not happy is a daunting prospect for a lot of people. Telling the person who’s supposed to make you feel happy that they’re not exactly living up to expectations can feel like a real attack for all parties involved.
That being said, these conversations are necessary for the long-term survival of a relationship , and the sooner you start figuring out how to have them, the better. If you’re not feeling supported, Barrett advocates for talking about it.
Ask for more support, but do it with elegance,вЂќ he says. Don’t attack them or be judgmental, as tempting as that may be. They’ll only get defensive and shut down. Instead, point out ways that you offer support, and ask if they can return in kind. Ask specifically, and compliment them for the support they’ve already given. Say something like, вЂI would love it if you asked about my work more often – you’re such a great listener.’вЂќ
Painting the conversation as a team effort where you work on something together means you’ll have a much better shot at making things work.
Mention times they were very supportive, and ask them for more of the same,вЂќ adds Barrett. This way, you’re appealing to their better angels, not criticizing them. When your partner sees your intentions are good – you merely want a closer, more mutually-supportive relationship – are going to pleased to oblige.вЂќ
And when you still find your lover to be missing in action when you need their support? Well, you could decide to end the relationship and try to find a more supportive partner elsewhere.
Do what’s best for you.
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Loving relationships are built on strong foundations.