How To Be Supportive To Him Without Being a Pushover – 4 Remarkably Effective Ways To Be a Supportive and Encouraging Partner
“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
But, blindly caring for your guy to the degree that you lose your integrity and value is wrong.
Is losing yourself in the relationship for the sake of keeping him in your life something you really want to do?
If your partner is going through a tough time and you are there for him, giving him your love and time, a helping hand, maybe even financial assistance to get him past this challenge, you are a true and loving person.
But, if he keeps depending on your kindness to bail him out of one crisis after another, you are a becoming a pushover – someone who is being taken advantage of.
Know the difference and act accordingly.
Everyone could use cheerleaders to boost them through their most challenging circumstances. A support to care for, look after or provide for you when you are most vulnerable is wonderful when you are in a healthy, nurturing relationship.
The question to ask yourself is, “Am I in a healthy, nurturing relationship or is my partner using me for financial gain or selfish needs?”
Notice if your generosity and warmth is really being appreciated with sincere acknowledgments and tender gestures.
Notice if you are comfortable giving financial aid with the knowledge that your loan will be repaid in a timely fashion. Notice if your strength and determination to keep the relationship gong is reciprocated with the same conviction and passion.
These are determining factors giving you the assurance that your partner truly needs your support and is grateful you are there.
A mutually respectful relationship is based on trust and certainty.
If you have that, you are not wasting your time and energy on a guy who is as loving and attentive as you are to him.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Of course you want to be supportive.
You want to be available when he needs your help. You want him to feel free to ask you for what he needs. And you want to say yes. You want to jump right in and lend a hand in any way that you can.
But you’ve had experience in the past being the person who takes on too much, promises much more than you can actually deliver, and basically take something over that wasn’t yours to begin with. And that never ends well, so how do you change?
If you’re a helper, that’s just what you do.
You help anyone who asks. And, if you’re a helper, you also know that you end up with more headaches than are completely necessary by being so, well, helpful. I think it’s a great idea to ask a few questions up front to avoid some of the headaches later on.
When someone is asking for help, I want to first make sure exactly what kind of help they are asking for. The hard part about this is that the asker isn’t always clear what he wants. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before agreeing to help.
I’ve learned that someone just wanting to get something off their chest is very different than asking you to help solve a problem.
And it uses two different skills sets, though both involve a lot of listening. If you are fixing a problem that has already been fixed you’ll both end up frustrated.
Making it clear from the start what your role is in a particular conversation is always a good idea. By starting from the right point, you will be supportive, and won’t use too much of your own resources.
If you think your guy needs help with something, ask.
You may have a wealth of knowledge in a certain area than he does, and he may be very appreciative of that, but it never feels good to have some take over a task that’s yours to do.
It would always be better to learn something new than to feel that you are incompetent, so figure out how to help instead of taking over – even if you’re sure you can do it better.
You can be supportive and still say “no”.
Sometimes you simply can’t do what is being asked. It doesn’t matter if the problem is with time or energy or some other resource. You get to make decisions about what you can and can’t do.
If you can’t help this time, say so. There’s nothing worse than resenting your decision to help someone else when you simply can’t do it. Find another way to show your love that feels good to both of you.
We all come at life from our own assumptions.
It’s not wrong, and you can’t help it, but try not to assume that others would need what you do in any given situation. Making sure that another person wants the help you’re offering and is truly able to ask for it is the best way to be supportive without being a pushover.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
There are people in this world who were born being able to support, nurture, and care for others, without seeming to need much in return.
They are the natural givers, important to be differentiated from people who consciously or unconsciously give to get. They are rare individuals and are usually found crusading for social equality or helping others less fortunate. For some reason, they just do not need much, and have a bountiful resource that seems to be fed from a source most of us don’t have access to.
Unfortunately, most people who deny their own needs whenever their partners seem to have a greater urgency, have a different underlying motivation for doing that.
They may just feel that their partners need that kind of attention to stay connected. Some are insecure that if they aren’t always available to accommodate that their partners will look elsewhere. Perhaps they are uncomfortable taking love in, and feel more comfortable giving than receiving love.
The terror of allowing too much coming their way makes them feel obligated to return a level of love they may not feel. For whatever reason, they gauge the security of the relationship by how nurtured their partners feel by them.
Too often, whether they are consciously aware or not, intimate partners who are quickly willing to put their own needs aside, are not without the underlying expectation that they are putting emotional money in a psychological bank they can draw from when they need something.
Though they are aware of that behavior or not, they are keeping tabs on an emotional credit card that they believe that are entitled to be reimbursed for when the time comes. Sadly, if their partners are not aware of this underlying contract, that psychological bank may have a hole in the bottom.
When most new relationship partners offer a boundless amount of time, energy, love, availability, flexibility, financial resources, support, empathy, understanding, or sacrifice, without appearing to need any reciprocity, buyer beware.
No one can maintain that level of uneven devotion for any length of time unless he or she is a saint, and I have never met one in the forty years I’ve been dealing with people in intimate relationships.
If relationships partners on the other end of people who offer that level of sacrificial, unselfish commitment, they will, over time, either need to run away from an unpayable debt, or devalue what has been given they cannot pay back. Yes, there are those who don’t feel guilty for uneven sacrifice, but they are easier to recognize.
There are times, of course, in every intimate relationship where one partner legitimately needs more of the couple’s emotional, financial, and spiritual resources.
Unexpected illnesses or losses, new obligations to vocational or social situations, or personal distresses, can stress a relationship and require an uneven distribution of time, love, and energy for a period of time. Couples who care about each other and their relationship are willing to support that imbalance.
But, even when both agree to the current situation, temperaments can be strained if that imbalance lasts too long. It is crucial that both partners maintain open and authentic communication to make sure appreciation and needs are clear when a uneven distribution of caring is required.
So, how can you determine if you are denying yourself by giving more to your partner than you truly need? This short quiz might help.
1 = Very rarely
2 = Sometimes
3 = Often
4 = Most of the time
1. When my partner needs me, I am very willing to put my own needs aside. ____
2. I find it very easy to give up the things I need if it causes a problem in my relationship. ____
3. It is very important to me that my partner feels loved at all times. ____
4. Sacrificing for someone I love feels like a good thing to do. ____
5. I find it hard to ask for appreciation from my partner. ____
6. I’d rather give in than have disharmony between me and my partner. ____
7. When I ask for my partner to sacrifice for me, he or she does. ____
8. I can easily ask for what I want even if my partner needs me to do something different. ____
9. My partner notices when I have given too much. ____
10. I feel totally beloved and appreciated for how much I give.____
Add up your scores:
30 – 40 Your level of giving is not harming you or your relationship.
20 – 30 You may be setting up an imbalance that is okay for now but could grow to make your partner feel too obligated.
10 – 20 You are in danger of a one-sided relationship that could eventually either spoil your partner or drive him or her to leave because of the obligation you’ve unwittingly created.
1 – 10 You are setting up a martyred process where no amount of reciprocation later will help the relationship regain its balance.
There is no right or wrong here, only a chance for you to observe how you are and to make corrections if you think you should.
One caveat: If you feel you are giving more than you are receiving because you are afraid of losing the relationship if you don’t, you may be putting yourself under emotional blackmail. That process never has a good ending.
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
The ability to balance a strong sense of self with the normal drive towards relationship is one of life’s biggest challenges.
The innate drive for togetherness is very strong as is the innate drive for autonomy. We are born with both but there is no rulebook on how to achieve a harmonious balance.
We spend our early lives trying to develop ourselves as strong individuals.
From the moment we are born, we are pushing against the symbiotic relationships that are so necessary for our survival. Human beings have a long childhood.
We require a lot of care to make it to adulthood. But if we don’t become independent of our families, we can’t make it in the outside world. It’s ironic that we spend so much energy striving for independence and then almost immediately begin looking for an intimate relationship!
We all want our adult relationships to be supportive. We want to receive support and we want to be able to provide support, but we don’t want this mutual support to rob either of us of our independence.
What is support?
I define support as the ability to understand and empathize with our partner’s needs and dilemmas without owning them. We need to be able to connect and understand without losing our ability to see each other as independent people.
That separateness makes it possible to be empathic and supportive without necessarily agreeing.
This process rests on a clear understanding and respect for our differences. It also presupposes that we are both adults and primarily responsible for our own decisions.
Most people really hate to get advice (look up the hilarious You-Tube “It’s Not About the Nail”).
People want to be heard and supported in their own process.
Many of life’s decisions are difficult; the answers are not always clear-cut, so it can be comforting to bounce your thoughts off of another person whom you know won’t judge you or tell you what to do. This requires restraint on the part of the listener. It’s not easy to withhold advice, especially when you think you’ve got a good answer.
In the long run, advising robs another person of growth.
It is through making tough decisions that we become increasingly mature and competent. Mistakes can be just as helpful to that process as positive outcomes.
Being supportive shouldn’t require much self-sacrifice because the real work belongs to the partner.
While mutual decision-making often requires compromise, that’s a different process than being a supportive partner. Usually the real challenge of being supportive and empathic is the tendency to do too much, not too little. We are not responsible for each other, but a good relationship provides support without robbing a person of his autonomy.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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