how to improve emotional support in relationships

Is Your Relationship Lacking Emotional Support? Here's How to Fix it.

In a relationship, emotional support is about providing love, acceptance and encouragement to your partner in order to establish a positive foundation for the relationship. Emotional support looks like cheering a partner on when they succeed as well as giving a partner room to make mistakes and lifting them up if/when they fail. In a relationship, it is super important to give and receive emotional support, especially during tough times so that partners feel like they have an emotional safety net and someone to rely on.

A lot of people think that just by being in a romantic relationship that they are offering emotional support to a partner, but that is not necessarily the case. It takes effort to provide emotional support to a partner, and is not an inherent part of romantic relationships.

When relationships lack emotional support, partners often feel distant and as if they cannot discuss emotions with one another. Or as if they are burdening their partner if they do share their emotions. This can lead partners to feel as if they are leading separate lives even though they are in a relationship with one another. It can also cause partners to look for emotional support in the form of other relationships, which can lead to emotional infidelity. A lack of emotional support can lead to emotional infidelity in the most extreme cases, but most of the time, it just leaves partners feeling disconnected.

If you think that you are lacking emotional support in your relationship, try out some of these easy, everyday things that you can do to strengthen the emotional support in your relationship.

Ask questions

If you have known your partner for a long time, you might be out of practice asking them questions about themselves, their day, their life. You may feel as if you know them so well that you don’t need to ask them things like you used to. Or you may feel like you know what’s going on with them because you share a life together. But it is important to ask your partner questions to show that you care about how they are feeling and what they are up to.

Asking your partner questions also opens up a dialogue in which they can vent, ask you for advice and tell you what’s on their mind. Staying curious about your partner and in tune to what they are feeling will help you cultivate more emotional support in your relationship.

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Practice active listening

When you ask your partner questions, it’s important to listen to their responses!! To improve the emotional support in your relationship, you need to practice active listening. If your partner does express vulnerability and open up to you about something important, or if they are just sharing something about their day, it is important to make space for them and hear them out. If you practice active listening, your partner will feel more encouraged to share things with you because they know that you are engaged with them and what they are talking about. Practicing active listening will validate your partner’s feelings and cause them to feel more emotionally supported in the relationship.

Respect their feelings

If and when your partner does share their feelings with you, it’s important to respect their feelings. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings, and even if you don’t agree with how they are processing their emotions, it is important to support them either way! Like we mentioned before, it is important to support your partner during the highs and lows of the relationship, even if you don’t understand where they are coming from. Respecting your partner (even though you have a different point of view) will foster emotional closeness and help provide emotional support in the relationship.

More physical touch

Focusing on the five different love languages is a great way to cultivate more emotional support in your relationship. While everyone has a preference for one or a few of the love languages (physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and giving/receiving gifts), everyone can appreciate being shown emotional support through each of the love languages. A great way to show your partner emotional support is to increase the amount of physical touch in your relationship. Physical touch does not necessarily need to be sexual, but it can be a shoulder squeeze to show solidarity, a kiss on the check on your way out the door or a massage after a long day of work.

Sharing physical touch will help you feel connected with your partner, which can facilitate conversation that improves emotional connection and support. Physical touch is a great way to show emotional support especially if you struggle with sharing your emotions in a verbal way. Sometimes physical touch is enough to make your partner feel seen and supported in the relationship.

Give small gifts

Another way to use love languages to create emotional support in your relationship is to give your partner little gifts from time to time. Giving gifts to congratulate a partner on an accomplishment or giving a gift to raise your partner’s spirits when they are having a bad day demonstrates to your partner that you see them and want to support them no matter what. When you give your partner a gift, it does not need to be something expensive or extravagant. But it should be something that shows that you really know them. Whether it’s picking up their favorite candy bar, sending them their favorite flowers, ordering food from their favorite restaurant, showing your partner you love them through giving a small gift (of something that they really like and appreciate) will help them feel emotionally supported in the relationship.

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Be kind in public

Another great way to show emotional support to your partner is to be extra kind to them in public. Showing your partner affection, complementing them, gassing them up will make them feel appreciated and valued. You should of course be doing this in private too, but something about a public compliment or being extra nice around your partner’s friends and family will make them feel like they are valued and emotionally supported. This is especially true if your partner does not have a lot of support from other people in their lives.

Modeling emotionally supportive behavior when you are around other people could help encourage them to mirror this behavior as well. Being kind doesn’t just relate to verbal kindness, non-verbal kindness is also super important. Holding doors open for your partner, getting them a present when you are out together, helping them with something in public are all great ways to show emotional support.

Give compliments

When you are being kind in public and or in private, make sure to compliment your partner! Will non-verbal acts of kindness are great and can really resonate, compliments are also a great way to show emotional support. In addition to commenting on a nice outfit or a great hair day, it’s important to compliment your partner on things other than physical appearance. Offer compliments on their decision making, a project they accomplished, how they handled a difficult situation, etc., etc.

Giving your partner compliments shows them that you are paying attention to what they are doing in addition to showing them that they support them through thick and thin. Sometimes hearing one nice thing can completely turn your day around. Don’t take for granted how powerful a simple compliment can be in growing your connection to your partner and cultivating emotional support in your relationship.

Go out of your way when your partner is having a bad day

While it’s important to be emotionally supportive on good days, it’s especially important to be emotionally supportive when your partner is having a bad day. Being in tune with your partner’s feelings and recognizing when they are having a bad day is a great first step in establishing more emotional support. Recognizing a bad day and going above and beyond to support your partner will demonstrate that you are there for them no matter what. This will help establish more trust in your relationship, which will help your partner feel more willing to open up and share things with you.

When your partner is having a bad day, it’s important to recognize that there is not always something that you can fix. And that they might not really want you to try and fix it or even offer solutions. Sometimes emotional support just means being a good listener when they want to share what’s on their mind. Or helping them out with a project that is stressing them out. Or offering to make dinner or pick up food so that they have one less thing to deal with that day. Emotional support is all about listening to what your partner needs. Showing up when your partner is not at their best is one of the most important ways to show that you will always be there to support them.

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