According to Shapiro (2011), here are few things we can do to help our friends and significant other.
1. Sit down with your partner and find an appropriate time to raise your feelings.
Finding an appropriate time to talk about personal matters is extremely crucial. If it’s a bad day for the both of you, chances are the talk will be more hostile. Perhaps it’s been a while since you feel like your partner has been empathetic, or perhaps your partner finds himself/herself afraid of moments you inevitably start crying. Inorder to bring up this issue, it is important to first reaffirm your partner of the times he/she has given you emotional support, and express your gratefulness for those moments. After which, you can build upon that and bring up how you were upset and even confused, by bring up something recent that has happened.
It might look something like this:
You know I really appreciate you for being there for me all these years, and for all the emotional support you’ve shown me. Remember what happened last year when I didn’t get the promotion I really wanted, but you really encouraged me and supported me. Have I ever told you that?
After which, you can continue, “I feel like you’ve been there for me and I really appreciate you. However recently I feel like you’ve brushed me off when I share my struggles and sadness with you – like earlier this week when I told you about the colleague who tried to sabotage my relationship with my boss. You were more a matter-of-fact when I really needed you to be more comforting.” (Shapiro, 2011)
It is important to know that while doing it, you are not confronting the person, but rather seeking to understand your partner’s perspective (Shapiro, 2011). This allows you to have a better understanding as to why there are times he/she doesn’t seem to offer you the emotional support you need.
2. Hear your partner out
There might be reasons that hinder your partner from comforting you due to the situation at hand that you might be unaware of. Sometime it’s easier to comfort someone when they’re angry, compared to when they’re disappointed or sad. Different people approach and shy away from different topics as well and hearing your partner out will help you understand him/her better.
3. Gaining mutual understanding
After hearing your partner out, you will be able to gain a better understanding on the reason(s) why your partner might be a better listener in certain situations than others. While you are able to identify what issues prevent your partner from feeling emotionally vulnerable, the aim of this is to gain mutual understanding and to share what works for you, rather than to provide an opportunity to point fingers.
For example, your partner might respond that he/she doesn’t know how to comfort you when you start crying. When you are able to share how comfort would look like for you e.g a hug, listening attentively, or a bar of your favourite chocolate, etc, you help your partner understand how you receive comfort the best. The key isn’t in thinking that your partner needs to “fix” your problem, but it is in highlighting how they can provide emotional support and comfort to ease your burden.
Sometimes we need someone to simply be there. Not to fix anything, or to do anything in particular, but just to let us feel that we are cared for and supported.
Lambert, B. (2019, June 7). How to Comfort Someone Who Is Hurting. Retrieved from https://www.theemotionmachine.com/how-to-comfort-someone-who-is-hurting/
McKay, K., & McKay, B. (2019, December 7). How to Comfort Someone Who’s Sad/Crying. Retrieved from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-comfort-someone-whos-sadcrying/
Shapiro, C. (2011, October 31). He Just Doesn’t Get How to Comfort Me! Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/sg/blog/when-youre-not-expecting/201110/he-just-doesnt-get-how-comfort-me
Tartakovsky, M. (2018, July 8). How to Sit with Someone Else’s Pain. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-sit-with-someone-elses-pain/