The Nature of Truly Supportive Relationships

Supportive Relationships

Truly supportive relationships are rare these days. Such relationships take a fair amount of work. And they take commitment, too. Accordingly, they take character, itself a rarity.

Supportive relationships have certain characteristics to them. However, most of these characteristics are not easy to come by in the age of widespread character disturbance. That’s what makes a supportive relationship so special when you’re fortunate enough to have one.

The Core Characteristics

Supportive relationships have very recognizable core characteristics. The most important of these include:

  • Acceptance. A supportive partner knows who you are. And they accept and respect you for who you are. They have no need to change you. Nor do they need to mold you to fit an image they desire.
  • Trustworthiness. Supportive partners understand that safe, intimate relationships are founded on trust. And they understand the  horrendous damage that can be done by a betrayal of trust. None of us is perfect. And no relationship is perfect. But supportive partners know that breaches of trust attack the very foundation of a relationship. And they gladly honor the promise to be faithful.
  • Commitment. Every relationship has its ups and downs, its trials and tribulations. Unwaveringly being there for one another through life’s inevitable storms marks any truly supportive relationship.
  • Positive Regard. Positive regard for another requires empathy. You have to really care to truly love. But caring is not enough for a truly supportive relationship. Supportive partners respect one another. And they respect one another’s needs, concerns, fears, and, especially, boundaries.
  • Forgiveness and Contrition. We’re all human. So, we make mistakes. Sometimes, we make big ones. But unlike casual relationships, truly supportive relationships are marked by forgiveness and contrition. Now, forgiveness does not mean giving a pass to repetitive unloving behavior. Rather, it means letting go of hurt when you know your partner is genuinely contrite.
Genuine Contrition

I’ve written before on contrition and its role in healthy relationships. Mature, spiritually-evolved characters behave a certain way when they fail life’s inevitable tests of their character. And because of the importance of this key concept, I would invite you to re-visit some of the articles on the topic.

Tidbits

Follow the link provided to catch the latest Character Matters podcast. And look for an announcement soon about the next live program.

5 thoughts on “The Nature of Truly Supportive Relationships

  1. I find it very hard that so few people have boundaries and will swing their ideals from one end to another. So I don’t always know who the other person is, or what they stand for. They say one thing and act another. They will follow others, in stead of following their own inner guide, or their own morals or something. I find it very hard to find friendships with these types of people. Even though I like to be around these people, I have a hard time being around these people. I just don’t know where I stand.

  2. It has been a long time since I have been here to this blog. I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother, who was still present in my life-and for a while, on nearly a daily basis. A mother who gaslights her child, and who daily rakes me over the coals like I deserve it, right?

    A narcissistic parent teaches their child, by extension to act like the person they like the best: Themselves. I have spent a couple years trying not to act like that with her present? Now that I am (for real) no contact, I have found these behaviors much easier to not do. My bad habits were learned at the cradle. A narcissistic parent also teaches about NO boundaries.

    The elements you describe here, Dr. Simon are contents of healthy boundaries. Acceptance, trustworthiness, commitment, positive regard, and forgiveness. All things that a narcissistic parent is not going to teach their children. They instead teach things like how to victimize others. How to blame people for your problems which are usually of your own creation. You must be punished, because you really deserve it, right?

    I realized I have been feeling angry with myself for putting up with her stuff for years, with God, with a narcissistic boss, with people who knew what was going on when I was a kid and did nothing to try and help (grateful for those who did though). That anger is poison. Letting it go, I think takes time. And it for me at least, has meant the relationship with my narcissistic mother had to come to a close. For good.

    I am working with a therapist who I have told is his job to help me stick to my guns on it. When before my reasons were financial, I now have a job that pays well, well enough that I have not needed to ask anyone for money. And now, I no longer have to be beholden to anyone for the things I have. I have my self respect.

    An inheritance, or last will is someone’s judgement of you from the grave, I believe. And she is leaving my inheritance to my brother, “so he can manage that money for you because of your mental problems.” Time to exercise some self-respect. With the current conditions, I cannot accept that money. Or if I do, I will donate the bulk of it to victims of domestic violence. Let some good come of it.

    1. JC, I can’t imagine, I was only married to one and he had me not believing my own eyes and ears. But then I knew absolutely nothing about narcs. so I was such good victim material.
      Glad to hear you are independent financially, that made a big difference for me, although I left him and had to work my way through college at the time, but it helped me see I could do it.
      Too bad they can’t teach this sort of thing in school to know how to put up boundaries, with good boundaries we would realize when we are not being treated well.

      1. Kat,

        It would be nice if that was something we were taught outside the home for some of us, our own parents are not up to the job. I was blessed with the influence of a good friend and her family when I was in junior high and high school, if it weren’t for them, I may have been doomed to turn out just like my narc mother.

        She had me thinking that my father not only did not want me but did not want to take care of me (all evidence to the contrary). She turned me against him and I allowed her to do it. I grew up and lived the better part of my adult like hating him the way she taught me to. I am grateful for my recovery because I was able to see the truth. And to make amends with him and to learn how to set healthy boundaries. A boundary is where I start and stop and where she begins.

        “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

        For work on boundaries, I think there are a few good sources. Recovery is all about healthy boundaries. You can learn them from the Bible too. And I have been exposed to a great series of books by Drs. Cloud and Townsend. They are called, Safe People, Boundaries, and How People Grow. And they are biblically based.

        I think I just got to the point where I simply could not do it anymore. Narcs will only continue to victimize people. But causing someone not to believe their own eyes and ears is a special kind of sick.

        When I encounter a narc now, I am far less tolerant of the behavior. My current boss is a narc-and he feels it is acceptable to yell at his staff, and he recently threw a phone at one of my coworkers. So I am looking for another job-and should not have too much trouble finding one that pays just as well if not a little better.

        I’ve finally been able to start letting go of the hurt and anger that you feel towards someone who is abusive to you in any way. It’s hard to do that when things are getting in your way of getting healthy again: continued contact with the source of pain, alcohol, dope, and pills that got in the way of God’s grace.

        1. I experienced as a parent my ex narc husband turning my kids against me, at this point I don’t even think they realize why they feel like they do. I talk to my daughter every day but there’s always a wall between us. I hated him for that, but I can’t live in hate so I have forgiven what happened as an unfortunate occurrence with a person who was not capable of love. I just wish my grown kids were totally healed, that’s what hurts the most. My parents were not up to the task of teaching either, I came from an alcoholic home where both parents were emotionally unavailable, which is how I became such a good victim. But God is good and with His wisdom and strength, healing is possible. I think letting go of the hurt and anger is key, and staying away from the toxic person. Unfortunately its your mother, not just a spouse you can divorce but I believe God gives special grace to those in need. Its great you are finding peace in your life, you deserve it!

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