The mutual flow of respect and support is essential to all healthy, sustainable relationships. Whether friends or lovers, we all want to believe those closest to us want for us to thrive, to fulfill our dreams and to achieve inner and outer success. Yet when this isn’t our experience, we might want to look more closely at the nature of these relationships.
What Is An Unsupportive Relationship?
When I first began to realize this, it was as I got my first big break in my budding media career. I squealed with delight when the producer called from a popular syndicated radio show asking to interview me. My heart pounded, my mouth went dry ~ I had worked so hard and now it seemed things were about to unfold. I was ecstatic.
The funny thing was, the one person I thought would be the happiest for me was anything but. Upset by his confusing affect, I pressed the matter. “Aren’t you happy for me? This is what I have worked so hard for, to get the message out there, but you seem upset?” He looked at me and unexpectedly said, “Now what, you’re going to be some big star and have to start traveling. I don’t want to be with someone who …” He didn’t finish the sentence. He didn’t have to, as it turned out; his attitude towards me and my success was a major culprit in ending our relationship a few painful years and many missed opportunities later. Opportunities that I passed up, afraid he would leave me if I didn’t.
It would take me years to identify and learn the importance of surrounding myself with supportive people.
Signs Of Unsupportive Relationships
Making Ourselves Small – you notice you place others’ needs or wants above your own, or hold back your wants and desires because you are afraid to alienate friends or lovers.
Hiding Our Success – you hide or minimize or significant events or progress towards your heart’s desires, not to arouse negative response, rejection or criticism
Jealousy – notice people who say they love or care about you are giving you mixed messages about your good fortune or advancement toward your goals. I.E. You just graduated from law school, your friend slaps you on the back and sarcastically says, “How does it feel to be part of the bottom-feeders club?” or “Ya know, most lawyers don’t even end up using their degree!”
Undermining- someone you care about purposely says or does something to throw you off track. Perhaps your single roommate conveniently doesn’t tell you your hot new boy friend called, twice; or doesn’t mention your name to someone who could help your career when they said they would; or worse, bad-mouths you behind your back.
Competitiveness – maybe your buddy hits on a someone you have had your eye on for quite some time and then says something like, “Hey dude, snooze you lose.” Or picks your brain about your latest idea, takes it without telling you, and uses it themselves without cutting you in. This is a huge sign of someone who is using you to further their own ends.
Devil’s Advocate – this person is always telling you why you can’t do something or why it won’t work, even when you don’t ask and they’re not an authority on the subject. “No one’s ever done that before.” “You can’t do that; you don’t have a license!” or “Where are you going to get the money to do that?” “She’ll never go out with you!” etc.
What To Do If You’re In An Unsupportive Relationship
If you suspect someone you care about or love is holding you back, consider this: Great relationships begin within! No matter what they’re doing, we need to look first at how we treat and care for ourselves. Relationships stem from this fundamental truth.
One of my husband’s and my marriage vows is “I want what you want for yourself,” and the friends I have today are as much fans of my living a rich, fulfilling life as I am of them doing the same. I am grateful every day to have them all in my lives!