At one point or another, most people have the unfortunate experience of being in an unsupportive relationship. These relationships can make us feel unheard, unseen, and unloved. There are times when we want our loved one to celebrate our successes and others when we want a shoulder to cry on, but unsupportive partners are absent whether times are good or bad.

If this sounds like your current relationship, it can have an impact not only on the way you act in romantic situations, but also the way you feel about yourself. You may internalize your partner’s inability to be supportive as a sign you’re not worthy of validation or just worthy in general. Or you may feel like you aren’t good enough or deserving enough to have your needs met.

The good thing is, that the majority of the time, this disconnect in a relationship is not spiteful on the side of the unsupportive partner. They are not spurning you or ignoring you on purpose. Instead, most of the time the lack of support stems from differences and misunderstandings in your communication.

This mismatch in communication often comes when you and your partner have been together for a while and feel like you know each other well. It’s easy to begin to expect your partner to just get you. To be able to anticipate your needs before you voice them and to be able to fulfill them without being asked. But all this does is leave you feeling uncared for and as if your partner doesn’t understand you.

But there’s more to not having good communication…

Unfortunately, when your relationship is based on the belief that your partner should be able to mindread, it affects your lives together in numerous ways. This includes not getting the help you may want, pent-up feelings of frustration, and questioning your self-worth. Not only does expecting your partner to read your mind keep you from getting the support you need, but after a while, you begin to feel like you do not matter in the relationship. This results in distance between you and your partner and both of you feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. Take a moment and reflect back on past arguments you’ve had with your partner…

Perhaps the two of you went grocery shopping one day and you divided up the list to make things go faster. As you got back together in the checkout line you realized that your partner added several items to the cart that you don’t like. Because you were so offended, you gave them the cold shoulder, feeling like their actions were passive-aggressive. At the time, you felt like your partner was trying to make you angry by putting their own needs and wants ahead of yours. It’s not that your reaction was necessarily about the groceries, but more about other times when you felt like you asked your partner for help and the help was not really what you wanted.

Unfortunately, over time, if you do not make the effort to repair these miscommunications, you may begin to feel resentful. As this resentment grows, you start to question your own value, how this got to be an established pattern in your relationship, and why you have not spoken up in the past.

In the end…

Eventually, you may wind up in a place where you feel unsupported and unhappy. But the truth is many couples struggle to communicate their needs and wants clearly. You and your partner are not the only ones to truly love each other yet have trouble showing love and lifting each other up. It’s ok that it may feel uncomfortable – or maybe even scary – to openly and honestly communicate about your desires. To ask for what you want to feel supported. But, with time and practice, you and your partner can develop the skills so that talking about what you want becomes second nature. More to the point, you will find that you and your partner will grow closer as your communication skills grow.

It is true that difficulty communicating with your partner can be frustrating and can make you feel like you don’t matter. However, if you can learn how to ask for the support you want, you can feel more connected, and feel like your moving in the same direction as one another. When you make changes to improve your communication, it’s entirely possible to feel happier and more satisfied.

Continuing in a Support-less Relationship

What tends to happen as you continue to live with an unsupportive partner is that you start to doubt their love for you. It feels like they are blatantly leaving you in the wind and that your needs are much less important than theirs. As this pattern continues, you can start to pull away from your partner as you believe that they are no longer going to validate you or add positivity into your life.

The relationship may not feel like a safe place anymore. You no longer feel like you can vent, share, or be vulnerable with your partner since your expressions fall on deaf ears. What’s more, you can begin to question the validity of your wants and needs. Since your partner doesn’t pay attention to what you are saying, it can have you start to question if there is legitimacy to your concerns.

The biggest downside of not overcoming this problem is that simple missteps in communication can lead to a relationship breakdown. Most of the time, with a few tweaks, you and your partner can both start to understand each other more and restore happiness to your partnership.

When the Two of You Communicate Your Needs

Although you may struggle with a divided relationship now, you have the potential to improve your communication and feel supported as you and your partner move forward. Making these changes goes a long way in making your wants known in a respectful way and ensuring that your partner is communicating their wants in return.

When you choose to take an active role in the communication patterns between you and your partner, you can start to truly connect with one another about how you both feel about yourselves and the relationship. You will learn to truly listen to one another and prioritize the choices that will make your relationship happy and secure again.

Living with a conscientious partner – and being conscientious in return – will help both you and your partner have the relationship you’ve been looking for. You’ll no longer question your connection or doubt each other’s intentions. You’ll also see how making an effort to understand the other’s point of view will make both of you feel surer of where your relationship is headed.

7 Steps To Boosting Support and Increasing Happiness

You may be feeling frustrated and unsupported by your partner, but there is hope that the two of you can uplift one another. You and your partner can reconnect and learn the communication skills to help you both feel supported.

The key to achieving happiness in your relationship is increasing communication and letting each other know openly and honestly where you are coming from. Making a few small changes is not as difficult as you might think, especially if the two of you are invested in the relationship and moving toward a common goal.

Take a look at these 7 tips to see how you can achieve more support and
happiness in your relationship.

#1 Learn Each Other’s Style
Most people have different communication patterns. The trick is to determine your preferred method of communicating and also to learn your partners. Sometimes it can be as if the two of you are speaking entirely different languages. While the words coming out of your mouths might be the same, the messages and intentions behind them are misconstrued and misunderstood. When couples come to Connecticut Integrative Counseling, we work to identify the differences in communication styles so couples can learn the most effective ways to communicate with each other.

#2 Determine Best Ways to Show Support
Just as communication styles are different for every person, so too are the ways you experience love and support. Some people respond by using their words (saying I love you or I appreciate you when you…) while others show support through actions (checking the car to make sure there are no problems shows how they care or cooking for another person). When couples seek counseling at CIC, we discuss each partner’s love language and the ways they feel truly supported. During this process, I ask that they be open to feedback as they both learn what the other wants.

#3 Ask for Help
Being vulnerable can be hard. Especially if you’ve felt shut down by your partner in the past. Asking for help can feel uncomfortable and can make you doubt yourself or the legitimacy of your request if you’re stuck in a pattern of not feeling heard. But the truth is, people cannot read each other’s minds, no matter how long they’ve been together. At CIC, I help couples recognize how crucial it is to ask for what they want so they don’t feel neglected or abandoned.

#4 Understand Your Differences.
Up until now, we’ve been focusing on how different you and your partner are. It’s really easy to judge each other based on your differences. However, the fact that you and your partner have different wants can be a great thing for your relationship as there are always new things to explore together and to learn about one another. People come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. You and your partner may have different tastes in music, movies, or activities. Focusing on the differences in therapy can help you remember what drew you to each other.

#5 Actively Listen.
Too often, you might be “listening” to your partner while already forming your response (or rebuttal) in your head. The problem with this is you don’t actually hear what your partner is saying. Actively listening helps you not only hear the words, but the emotions and thoughts behind the message your partner is sharing. This can be tricky as we are in a culture which celebrates being busy. But at CIC, I help couples make their relationship a top priority, and provide their partner with undivided attention, so they can increase their supportive connection.

#6 Put Each Other First
One thing that helps couples improve their communication skills is to cut through all the other noise and distractions in their lives. Make the effort to create a special time to touch base with each other. Try to limit interruptions from technology and other people, and just be in the present moment together.

#7 Increase Compassion
Sometimes couples fall into patterns of blaming each other when their wants aren’t met. But if you remember, most of the time lack of support and disconnect within your relationship comes from miscommunication. When you schedule a session with me, you will start to see that your partner likely has the best of intentions for you and your relationship.

Because You Matter…

Achieving more support in your relationship can help you recognize how important you are to your partner. Being able to feel like you are a priority and that your voice is being heard goes a long way toward making you feel more loved and appreciated. You absolutely matter and deserve to feel supported, happy, and fulfilled.

Feeling like you and your partner could benefit from a more supportive relationship? Please call me or schedule a phone consultation to see if your relationship could benefit from couples counseling.