Whether you’re dating someone new or have been together for decades, mutual support is one of the fundamental must-haves for a healthy, successful relationship. Having a partner who supports your big dreams and long-term goals and provides their time and attention when you need an ear is incredibly important for the health and longevity of a relationship.
But what happens when your partner stops providing that support?
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Dealing with an unsupportive partner can be difficult to navigate, especially when they’ve previously been there for you during other times in your relationship.
If your partner has become unsupportive, you can take steps to determine what the reason is. You’ll have a clearer idea of how to move forward and address the situation. Here’s a look at how to deal with an unsupportive partner.
Signs of an Unsupportive Partner
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re currently feeling undervalued by your partner. It’s important to look at how you’re not feeling supported or valued. This can help clarify the behaviors that are making you feel unsupported, which can help determine how to best address them.
They dismiss conversations
Having a partner listen to what you’re saying, understand where you’re coming from and take an active role in the conversation is one way to show support. If you’re finding that your partner brushes off your attempts to speak about serious topics affecting you, this is something to pay attention to. This pertains to in-person conversations as well as unanswered calls or texts.
They don’t celebrate your wins
A supportive partner will feel proud, excited and happy about your wins and achievements – even if it’s in an area that doesn’t particularly interest them, they show up to cheer you on and share your happiness and excitement at what you’ve achieved. Conversely, an unsupportive partner may brush off these wins or undermine them instead of showing interest.
They don’t validate your feelings
If your partner refers to your feelings as overreactions or tells you you’re too emotional about something, they’re not a supportive partner.
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Unsupportive partners will dismiss emotions by saying the way you feel is not correct or appropriate — which can often leave you feeling worse than you did before you tried to speak to them about the situation.
They disappoint you
Being in a relationship means that, inevitably, your partner will let you down at some point. However, if you’re constantly communicating with your partner about things that are important to you where their presence would mean a lot – for example, having them accompany you to a family party or friend’s wedding even if they don’t necessarily want to go – your partner is being unsupportive.
They don’t take an active interest in your life
It’s normal and even healthy for your partner not to share the same interests, hobbies and personal goals as you do. However, if your partner isn’t cheering you on or asking about how things are going in these areas, they’re unsupportive.
They retreat during hard times
In committed relationships, it’s expected that if one person in the relationship experiences hardship or setback, the other will step up to provide support and help. An unsupportive partner is nowhere to be found when things get tough and may take a step back rather than step in.
They cut you off
An unsupportive partner will constantly talk over their significant other or cut them off during the middle of a story or conversation to interject their thoughts and feelings. This isn’t just an occasional slip-up, but something that constantly happens that your friends and family members may have even commented on to you privately.
What to Do When You Have an Unsupportive Partner
If your partner is unsupportive or has become this way recently, breaking things off isn’t always the answer. If you no longer feel supported by your partner, here are a few steps.
Identify when this behavior started and how long it’s been happening for
If you’ve been with your partner for quite some time and these unsupportive behaviors are a new trend, take some time to determine what else has changed recently that may be the cause. For example, maybe you’ve decided to work toward a goal that they feel uncomfortable with, especially if this plan will negatively impact them in the short term. It could be that instead of your partner communicating their concerns or hesitations with you, they’ve opted not to show support altogether.
Listen to your partner’s point of view
This can be a challenging step to take. If your unsupportive partner has been acting this way for some time, you may be feeling upset and even resentful toward your partner’s behavior.
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Still, it’s important to hear what your partner has to say about the areas where they have not been showing support recently and approach the conversation without anger or judgment to determine the best course of action.
Discuss your concerns
As you’re speaking with your partner about their unsupportive behavior, see if there are any concerns that you also have that overlap. You and your partner both share similar hesitations about the new job or goal you want to pursue – but you’ve worked through them on your end, whereas your partner may still be having trouble doing so.
Determine if you need their support
If your partner isn’t providing support across the board in key areas of your life, this step won’t apply. But if your partner’s lack of support stems from a life change you want to make or a goal you want to pursue that they aren’t all in on, ask yourself whether or not you truly need them on board to make this happen. Additionally, are there compromises you can make where your partner feels more comfortable with the goal or change you’re after that will still help you get there?
Evaluate the worst-case scenario
How much will you regret not pursuing the goal or dream you have? Is that regret worth living with? If your partner is not on board to provide the support you need to achieve what you’re after, it may be time to decide whether it’s worth forgoing – or worth staying in a relationship where you’re not getting what you need from the person you’re with.
Dealing with an unsupportive partner is never a fun scenario to find yourself in. If you feel that your partner is not providing the kind of support you need, having a calm and honest conversation with your partner might be all that’s necessary to determine why the behavior has changed and how to move forward. However, suppose your partner is being unsupportive in all areas of your life, from actively listening to dismissing your feelings about everything. In that case, it may be time to decide whether or not this behavior is something that will make you happy in the long run if you were to continue the relationship.
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