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Not sure how to be supportive


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Old 5th March 2019, 8:52 AM   #1
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Not sure how to be supportive

Sorry for the long post. I'm not usually great putting my thoughts into words, but they just really seemed to pour out of me today.

Iím feeling a bit lost in my relationship with my girlfriend. We have been together for just over a year and for most of that time it has been a solid relationship. We have very much connected mentally, emotionally and physically. We have had our share of bumps in the road, but we have always worked through things and come out stronger.

We are both pretty busy and it can be hard to always find enough time for each other, but we have always managed to find ways to connect when we have felt disconnected.

This past week has been especially tough. We have not had much time for each other. It feels harder to connect. One difference between us is that she can get gloomy and sort of withdrawn. It becomes hard to reach her and it makes me feel anxious. I try to keep connecting in any way that I can, but when it is not reciprocated it makes me feel nervous and off balance. It is like my brain is then free to fill in the blanks and it does that by filling it with insecure thoughts about us.

I really donít feel like there is anything wrong with our relationship, but weíre definitely at a low spot and Iím struggling to know what to do.

She has an important doctor appointment later this week and I know that even though she is trying to put on a brave face that it is really impacting her so I know where some of this distraction is probably coming from. She told me Monday morning that itís really been on her mind and that she is trying to stay positive about it but that she really needs me right now and I told her I would be there for her.

This past weekend was hard and my guess is that her looming appointment is connected to how things went down. Weíre usually together on Friday night, but she had something to go to and was gone most of the night. She worked all day and night Saturday into Sunday. She is working several jobs in addition to her regular job to pay off student debt. She was okay when she got back on Sunday, but became increasingly withdrawn as the day went on. I worked late last night and then had a meeting and by the time I got home she was in bed and ready to go to sleep and she didnít seem like she wanted to talk.

Iím not going to put anything else on her. I donít feel it is okay for me to tell her that her actions are making me feel disconnected and anxious. She has enough on her plate, but the truth is I am feeling disconnected and anxious. Iím willing to feel that way right now, but it also makes it hard to be there for her. How do I do that when it feels like she wonít let me connect with her? How can I be there for her when it feels like our conversations have become forced and itís just me trying to carry the whole conversation.

This morning felt very disconnected. There wasnít much closeness as we were getting ready for work. She has a longer drive and always calls me on her way and she did this morning, but if I hadnít talked it would have just been silence on the phone. That gets to be really uncomfortable. I tried engaging her on a variety of subjects, but never got more than a handful of sentences. I asked her how she was doing Ė giving her an opening (I thought) to talk about what sheís feeling, but she just told me sheís fine. I know she isnít, but if she wonít talk to me Ė what do I do? I donít want to push myself on her. It feels like all I can do is to just be here for her in whatever way she needs me and to put aside whatever Iím feeling and to try and stay positive and loving and understanding.

I worry that Iím not doing enough. Our talk this morning has left me feeling awkward. I wanted to talk to her about how she is feeling, but when she didnít respond to that I just talked about whatever and Iím worried that Iíve made her upset because Iím not being who she needs me to be, but it also feels like sheís withdrawing and disconnecting and pushing me away. It doesn't feel right to just keep smiling and hope that my cheerfulness will make her feel better, but because she's acting so withdrawn I'm not sure if I should just come out and say hey, how are you feeling about your appointment and can we talk about it?

Anyway, again sorry for the long post. Iím just trying to figure out what to do next. How do I act when I get home tonight? I've always kind of known what I should do in this relationship and my gut has always been right - but I'm not getting a clear reading right now.
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Old 5th March 2019, 8:55 AM   #2
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This is my first post, btw - so an especially big thank you for listening!
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Old 5th March 2019, 9:33 AM   #3
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Can you take time off & go to the doctor's appointment with her?

Have cheery flowers delivered the day before & show up on her doorstep that night with dinner. Listen to her. Hold her. Just be there & if she cries just let her.
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Old 5th March 2019, 9:49 AM   #4
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Can you take time off & go to the doctor's appointment with her?

Have cheery flowers delivered the day before & show up on her doorstep that night with dinner. Listen to her. Hold her. Just be there & if she cries just let her.
I wish I could - but I don't have any personal time off left at work. I do, but it's already spoken for as we have a few things we've planned in the coming months. My thought when driving in this morning was that I would try and go with her, but when I crunched the numbers it became clear I wouldn't be able to do it.

Thanks for the advice. It's definitely in line with what I've been thinking.

The biggest "question" for me is that I don't know if I should give her space regarding what she's feeling or if I should just come out and ask her? Part of me thinks I'm not doing enough and that because I don't know how to act - I'm just acting like everything is normal.

I really am feeling anxious about going home tonight (we live together). What do I say? How do I act? How do I let her know I'm here and ready to be whatever she needs me to be and what she's going through right now is the most important thing going on for me because she's the most important thing in my life?
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Old 5th March 2019, 9:52 AM   #5
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Set a nice mood . . . soft music, candle light etc. Then invite her to sit on the couch with you. Wrap your arms around her. Snuggle back & whisper I love & I'm hear for you. No more words on your part are needed If she wants quiet, give her quiet. If she wants to talk you listen. Just let her lean on you & draw strength from you. Remember this isn't about sex; it's about love.
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Old 5th March 2019, 10:04 AM   #6
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Set a nice mood . . . soft music, candle light etc. Then invite her to sit on the couch with you. Wrap your arms around her. Snuggle back & whisper I love & I'm hear for you. No more words on your part are needed If she wants quiet, give her quiet. If she wants to talk you listen. Just let her lean on you & draw strength from you. Remember this isn't about sex; it's about love.
This is very helpful. Thank you! She actually has a meeting tonight - like I said - it seems like we're both busy a lot these days...but she will be home for a couple of hours before that and asked me if I could help her cook. She said she thought it would be fun. I'm hoping we'll have a little time before bed to check in and I'll let her know I'm here and that I love her and I don't think I'll push too hard, but I do want it to be clear that the door is open to talk. I worry I was a little vague this morning when I asked her how she was doing.
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Old 6th March 2019, 4:57 PM   #7
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I think things were better last night. I sent her a text in the middle of the day (I didn't want to wait) just saying I was here for her and listing a couple of ways: if she needed me to listen, I would listen with my full attention and if she just needed me to hold her, I'd hold her as tightly as I could. Just stuff like that - reaffirming that I was here for her 100% and that no matter what happened I'd be with her. It was received well (she "loved" the text).

I followed her lead when she got home. We spent a couple of hours cooking together and it was a lot of fun and then she went to a meeting for a few hours.

When she got home - I could tell she was still very preoccupied (I completely understand that). We did not talk about her appointment. We talked about other stuff - things I would consider just normal conversation. I said she was preoccupied, but definitely not as distant. There was a warmth that maybe wasn't there the past couple of days.

I'll continue to follow her lead. She knows I'm here however she needs me to be and I'll continue to be loving and understanding and helpful. I don't know what else I can do. I just really don't want to push her on it - if she wants to talk about it - I'm here - if she doesn't I have to be okay with it.
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Old 6th March 2019, 5:45 PM   #8
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Buy her some nice flowers and write a note in a nice card. Now get to Hallmark and pick the perfect card to express your support for her.
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Old 6th March 2019, 6:02 PM   #9
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The biggest "question" for me is that I don't know if I should give her space regarding what she's feeling or if I should just come out and ask her?
It's actually impossible to give somebody the support that they want and need without knowing how that looks for them. And the ONLY way to know, is to ask them directly.
(Not their mom, not their sibling or best friend, not a psychic...ask them, directly.)

Just say, "I don't know what you want or need right now; help me to know, please." You can also add, "I feel inadequate and incompetent here, so I'll appreciate you helping me to learn and grow."
(Or words to that effect. .)

Now. The mistake that a lot or most people make, is that they don't actually bother to learn from it, the first few times that they get the opportunity. So,
LEARN from what she tells you about what she wants and needs through this crisis, and then use it for the next one.
(Then you'd say, "Last time, you said <this, this, and that>, and you wanted <that, that, and this>...is it the same, this time? Or, what is different? How can I help you, now?"

THAT is how you truly, actually prove that you listen and that you care. You bother to put it into your heart's memory, and you bother to access it when needed in the future.
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Old 8th March 2019, 5:35 PM   #10
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Thank you all for the advice. It has helped and we have had some good discussions since I posted my original question.

She had her appointment today and it wasn't what we hoped for. I won't get into specifics, but it is not life threatening, but it could end up being substantial enough. We won't know until additional tests are run in a few weeks.

It was hard knowing what to say today and my words did not feel very substantial. I told her several times that I loved her and that no matter what happens, I'll be by her side. Those are not idle words. I truly mean it.

I'm probably overthinking what I'll say to her when I get home. It is a big deal - I don't want to downplay it. I can offer he my love and support and all that comes with that, but it sill feels like not enough.

I've never had to deal with something like this and I'm finding myself short on confidence that I'll know what to do.
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Old 8th March 2019, 6:31 PM   #11
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Stop focusing on what you are going to say & focus on what you are going to do. Hug her. Love her. Cook dinner for her or bring home take out. Listen to her. Draw her a hot bath & let her relax. Tomorrow bring her breakfast in bed & you do the laundry. Just sort of pamper her all the while muttering things about I love you, we'll get through this, I'm here for you etc.
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Old 9th March 2019, 4:12 AM   #12
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I'm probably overthinking what I'll say to her when I get home. It is a big deal - <snip>, but it sill feels like not enough.
I'd caution to not make it all about you; your words, your actions, your reactions.
Be careful to not come off insecure about your own abilities to properly comfort and support her...that'll be you needing her to comfort and support, instead. . Don't go there.

Take a moment to consider how you would feel if you were the one who had received the potentially life-changing news that she has received.

Finally, ask her to PLEASE tell you when you're going over-board with your support and/or with your being over-focused on her condition by just making too many direct or subtle references to it.

Wishing for the best diagnosis and outcomes for her.
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Old 14th March 2019, 8:10 AM   #13
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Thanks again - everyone - for the advice. Things have been going okay. We're figuring it out together.
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