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How To Be Emotionally Supportive (15 Special Ways In A Relationship)

February 5, 2024

When we speak of relationships and marriage, we must consider friendship and love as the foundation. While the first two are easy to envision because they form part of our desires, the latter is much harder to imagine

Despite thousands of couples vowing yearly to stand by their partners through thick and thin, they still struggle with providing the right emotional support a husband or wife may need to get through a tough time. 

The first mistake we make in instances like this is that we forget the variety of ways in which someone can offer emotional support. As such, we take our preferred style of being soothed as the natural starting point for soothing our significant other. Unfortunately, this compounds our partner's distress or sense of being ignored, and we are also left unhappy as we take them to be ungrateful. 

Therefore, the steps to being emotionally supportive in a relationship are to understand our partner’s personality, acknowledge our differences, and submit to how they will like to receive comfort

In this article, I will be discussing 15 ways to be emotionally supportive, and I am sure one or more of these tips will apply to your partner's love language.

15 Ways To Show Emotional Support In A Relationship

1. Ask specific questions

ask specific questions

Sometimes, many of us feel helpless when our partners are in distress or suffering; we are helpless due to a lack of knowledge on how to help. However, asking a general question like 'how can I assist?' is not always the right approach because they may be feeling too flustered even to know what they want. 

Instead, ask specific questions like, 'Would you want some privacy', 'do you need a hug' or 'would you like to talk about it?'. 

2. Be a good listener

When in a relationship, there is no use asking questions if you are unwilling to listen; after all, listening is quintessential of love. If you notice that your partner is the type to speak and rehash their pain when in distress, it is crucial to allow them to talk even when they are not entirely sequential and moving around in circles. 

What matters to your partner in moments like this is that you sit with them at length. Furthermore, your body language goes a long way to show how much of an active listener you are. So, signal your engagement with your eyes and perhaps, a nod to register their anger with intermittent sounds of encouragement for them to continue speaking.

3. Offer Validation

When a partner suffers emotionally, it could sometimes be due to an error on their path. Maybe they made a wrong investment, and now they suffer financial loss, or perhaps, they trusted a colleague who has proved themselves not to be trusted on several occasions. 

All these may seem like avoidable situations that they somehow chose to approach; however, rather than try to analyze how they could avert their suffering, it is better to validate their feelings. 

Tell them how it is alright to give people a second chance, and maybe go further to put yourself in their shoes by saying you probably would have made the same decision given the information they had. Validation helps them feel better and less alone in their grief. 

4. Offer physical affection

A hug, cuddle, or kiss on the forehead may seem like a weak response to bad news to many, but they are reliable evidence of love for others. When dealing with a partner like this, you must first reassure the body before you can go about comforting their minds. 

Remember, emotional support in adult relationships may sometimes be associated with the gift of insight, but for others, it is the touch of a loved one that soothes and it is these feelings that help them get through difficult times. 

5. Offer help through acts of service

offer help through acts of service

While some people want to vent and others prefer a hug, some will like to have solutions and answers to their problems. This is exceptionally consistent with people who have gone through an economically difficult childhood. 

Therefore, the ultimate way to show support is not through words of mouth or hugs but by providing practical solutions to their problems. For instance, if your partner has lost their job, helping them to secure a new job is the support they need. 

Alternatively, if they are worried about footing an elderly parent's hospital bill, offering to pay for it is a way to help lighten their burden. Other gestures include getting them flowers, lunch, or assisting with the things they lack.

6. Offer authentic compliments

Sometimes, when we are down and emotionally weary, our feelings can change because someone reminded us of all the positive things we possess. Applying this concept to a suffering partner can help provide the emotional support that they need. 

Remind them of the times they have gone through similar challenges and overcome or all the good things and qualities they possess and bring to your relationship. However, try not to go overboard with this as that will make your compliments lose their authenticity, and may invoke negative feelings within your partner. 

7. Try not to fix or give advice

Unless your partner specifically asks for advice, please do not consider yourself to advise or fix the problem. Sometimes, just because a person tells you about a problem does not mean they want your advice. They probably want to vent and be heard. 

However, what you can do is listen to them and talk them through their issues. Asking reflective questions such as 'have you or anyone you know gone through this, and how was it handled?' can help with their feelings as they develop solutions independently

8. Don't undermine their experience

Human emotions vary, and so do the degree of their reactions. Just because something is not a big deal to you doesn't mean your partner also has to treat it like a grain of salt. Simply put, do not try to dictate how they should react to or feel about something that distresses them. 

Never try to undermine their suffering or attempt to cheer them up by comparing it to someone who is worse off or making statements like, "it could have been worse" as that denies their experience and emotions. 

9. Don't be judgemental

Similar to offering unsolicited advice, avoid being judgemental even if you feel it is their fault that they are now in distress. Providing critique or asking questions that insinuate your partner may have contributed to their misery will only further hurt them. It means they deserve their grief and do not deserve sympathy, so watch your words. 

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Similarly, your tone could also be bashful and judgemental so pay attention to that as well. Your aim should be to avoid any trace of disapproval escaping from you. Everyone makes mistakes and while it is okay to point out their errors when they are hurting is not a good time. Wait for other opportunities after they are emotionally okay to offer your criticisms. 

10. Do not express discomfort

The ability to offer emotional support effortlessly will certainly make a difference. Although a good gesture, it’s not something that comes naturally to many of us in relationships. We hate to dwell in misery or painful moments, and at the slightest experience of such moments in our relationships, we are off to seek something pleasurable or move on with life. 

While this may be alright in some situations, it is not always appropriate to expect our partners to get over their feelings as quickly as we do, and when they do not, we make it evident that their moods make us uncomfortable. 

When you are in a relationship with someone, it is expected that you are ready to cry when we cry and laugh when they laugh so showing discomfort in your partner's misery will make them feel unloved and ignored. 

11. Pray with them

Dealing with emotional pain can be tricky, and while some people enjoy talking to people about it, others find solace in talking to a higher being. If you or your spouse are religious, you may want to consider praying with them. 

Prayer serves as a form of therapy to many people; it comforts them with the belief that there is a higher authority who understands their feelings and will perfect all that concerns them accordingly. By praying with your partner, it shows that you stand with them in their faith, and you ultimately care about their well-being. 

12. Come up with distractions

come up with distractions

While forcing a person to get over their misery is not a good way to offer emotional support, it is okay to think of ways to help them recover faster. For instance, if your partner feels stressed and depressed because of work, you can consider booking them for a spa day. 

That way, they can relax away from work and home and forget about everything else. Focus on distractions that they will welcome but make sure this after you notice that they are making efforts to move on. Refrain from bringing this up too soon as that can signal a dismissal. 

13. Check in on their emotional health and well-being

It is not enough to provide a listening ear once and leave your partner to their faith. If you do not stay together, taking time out to check in on them goes a long way. You may choose to call or stop by their office or home with food, chocolates, or flowers now and then while checking on their well-being. 

Prepare your mind that some of these visits may involve them telling the same stories repeatedly but listen anyway and do not grow weary with your visits or calls. 

14. Support their decision

So you have sat with your partner while they vent and watched them progress from venting towards talking themselves through their situation. The next step after this is usually them coming up with a decision on what to do about their situation. 

Now is not the time for you to chip in either; however, you can provide emotional support by supporting whatever decision they choose. So long as their decision is not self-sabotaging or downright harmful, it is okay to stand by them while they figure things out on their own even if this decision does not sit right with you. 

15. Be present

be present

When sad, your partner's ultimate way to feel your emotional support is when you make an effort to be present in every way possible. Agreeably, some people want to go through misery and grief alone, but when giving them the space needed, it is vital that you also let them know that you are available if they ever need you. 

There is another spectrum of people who fall under the canopy of 'misery loves company', and you can make yourself available for such a person by empathizing with their situation. 

What calms such people is a quiet walk around the prospect of catastrophe—knowing that their partners are willing to match their most forbidden analysis while being honest to see the dangers and worry about them just as much as they do. 


How do you emotionally support someone?

Emotional support can be manifested in many ways. You can emotionally support a person by offering genuine compliments and encouragement, compassion, reassurance, and empathy to their suffering. It is about providing love and support to a stressed and sad person in an attempt to alleviate their misery.

What are examples of emotional support?

You can offer emotional support by giving the person a hug and offering a listening ear, taking up little tasks that contribute towards making them sad and stressed. Furthermore, trying not to be judgmental about their decisions or quick to advise but choosing to empathize with them and support their decision irrespective of your opinion.

What do you say to show emotional support?

When a person is sad, it is important to choose your words carefully. Ensure that you use kind suggestive words that do not reflect your opinion or a sense of judgment on their decisions and actions. 

Comments like; "Would you like to talk me through how you feel?', 'What do you think is the cause of this feeling?' 'How can I help?', and 'I will support whatever decision you choose' are kind words to say when supporting someone emotionally.

What does a supportive partner look like?

A supportive partner is one who understands the complexities of human beings, and as such, they do not judge or rebuke you for your shortcomings. When you are with a supportive partner, you can freely speak your mind, and you trust that their words come from a place of honesty and compassion.

Why emotional support is important

Having someone who supports you emotionally in a relationship gives you the strength and courage to face life's hurdles. It helps calm your anxiety while deepening the bond between you and your partner. Furthermore, couples who support each other emotionally are more likely to withstand relationship pressures because they trust each other when compared to those who lack it. 

The Bottomline

The crux of the summary lies in paying attention to the different styles of emotional support. We must also be alert to the risk of misdirected efforts by ensuring that we know how our partners prefer to receive emotional support. 

I hope you found these tips helpful. If yes, do not keep it to yourself alone. Please share with your friends and family who are also in relationships, and I look forward to reading for you in the comment section. 

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