How do others respond to support?

KayW

Learning
I mentioned to my therapist that getting into an intimate relationship would probably bring up too many difficult feelings/memories. He asked - what if the relationahip was with someone that would support you with that?

My response was that this would create a power imbalance and thats not something that would make a healthy relationship. Although there is a rational argument why this is a bad idea, my emotional response to a suggestion that I might rely on someone for support in a relationship was fearful.

Ive learnt to ask people in a professional role for support when I need it. But I am anxious when doing it and super sensitive to the response. So seeking or accepting support is a work in progress.

I realise lots of people here do have support and probably others like me that dont. So what is the balance of accepting support and maintaining some self-worth and autonomy?
 

KayW

Learning
wouldn’t abuse you, or look down on you”
I find it difficult to put my trust in this one. It sounds like something that people would say, but needs to be shown in action.
could be a good friend to you”
This one is interesting because in my mind, a good friendship is mutual. Both people have opportunity and necessity to be there for each other. I guess I relate to being open and listening to each others wishes andvrespecting that. My description theres sounds a bit idealised, but its something to work with.
 

Friday

Moderator
Soooooooomewhere on here I wrote out a “Tale of 2 Boyfriends”… ETA, or I suppose in this case, 3 boyfriends… unfortunately it was so long ago that IDFK where it is, and any of the key words I can remember are too common to be of use in the Search Feature.

The essence though, is this; When I was having a bad day?

- 1 would look at me, narrow his eyes, and drag me out to the garage for a little sparring/ would kick my ass 6 ways from Sunday… until my head was clear, and my body exhausted, and I could. just. f*cking. think. again.

- 2 would look at me, his heart in his eyes, and want to talk about it. And cook me food. Bring me a blanket. Clear his whole schedule to just BE with me, and be there.

I broke up with 2 very early on, but dated 1 for a rather long time. Still love the hell out of him. Great guy.

They were both offering the kind of “support” they were individually suited for. 2 was very touchy/feely/talky. Which is EXACTLY what a helluva lot of women dream about, whilst 1 was very physical, and his intuition/inclinations? Lined up EXCATLY with both what I needed, and what I wanted. (Meanwhile bloke 2 couldn’t have been more ill-suited. I’m touchy, not feely).

Very similar to how I ended up dating bloke 3… I walked past this GORGEOUS guy, reading a book in the shade by a lake. And stopped. Tilted my head. And said “Dayum. The only way YOU could be prettier is on your belly behind a scope.” It just fell out of my mouth. If anything? I expected a weird look, and to continue on my walk. (I have impulse control issues, weird looks are part of my normal.) Instead the guy blinked, and then roared with laughter. Super liberal part of the country, and I’d stumbled on a Scout/Sniper reading Ovid for his masters degree in the sunshine. He had a sexy sexy mind. And a sexy everything else. And by sheer dumb luck I’d “seen” a part of himself he kept hidden. We got on like a house on fire.

Sometimes? People “see” us. And intuitively know what we need/want.

Whether that’s “Pancakes or blowing shit up?” (What speaks to my heart) or something radicallly different (what speaks to other peoples hearts).

The kind of support ANY OF US offer anyone else? Is part of who we are. What we do naturally, or what we can learn and love.

It’s not professional support “support”.

It’s the strength of friendship. And who we are, as individuals.

IME.
 

KayW

Learning
@Friday that was a really powerful story.
Im not sure how to respond or reflect it onto my own situation. I think it highlights how little I understand about myself in relationship.
 

Friday

Moderator
I think it highlights how little I understand about myself in relationship.
That’s one of the -many- things a person learns by living, ya know?

We can all think about what we MIGHT like, or be like, or want (in a relationship)… but until we’ve actually been in that situation? We don’t know.

The only way to find out who we are, is to live it.
 

KayW

Learning
That’s one of the -many- things a person learns by living, ya know?

We can all think about what we MIGHT like, or be like, or want (in a relationship)… but until we’ve actually been in that situation? We don’t know.

The only way to find out who we are, is to live it.
I know I may come across as younger. In understanding the workings of healthy relationships, I am clearly lagging behind where I should be. But I am in my late forties.

I have had relationships and repeated the same patterns. I thought Id escaped and recovered from that, then I dated someone and didnt want to take it further and that led to my last trauma 15 years ago. Ive avoided relationships since and havent experienced anything traumatic since.

I love your love of life and spontaneity @Friday, but its important for my safety that I do take time to think about what I might like and what that looks like and learn to differentiate healthy from unhealthy.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I find it difficult to put my trust in this one. It sounds like something that people would say, but needs to be shown in action.
I have trouble taking anybody at their word. But that's why you spend time with people, in part, right? To see how they are, what they do, if their words match their actions. You do need to trust to take that first step, that getting to know somebody, but you don't have to take their word that they will support you.
am clearly lagging behind where I should be. But I am in my late forties.
I had my first real relationship at 46. I was definitely unexperienced and really didn't understand how relationships worked. Still, I found someone who was very kind and patient and treated me with nothing but respect.
My response was that this would create a power imbalance and thats not something that would make a healthy relationship.
The notion that a relationship where there is a power imbalance is unhealthy may be true in some cases but not all. In fact, some people deliberately seek out that sort of relationship (and I'm wondering if you think that many marriages in the, say 50s and 60s, were unhealthy? Many of them were not balanced in terms of power, but people were happy) and are perfectly happy in it.
 
So what is the balance of accepting support and maintaining some self-worth and autonomy?
I relate to this so much. I actually had a past boyfriend that was offering to help me out with something and I was like "no I got it" and he got really angry. It was actually our worst fight. That's always stuck with me. It was a powerful message to me that refusing support from someone that is offering it willingly can actually come off as insulting to them. I so didn't even mean it that way.

My hair stylist said once, "when someone gives you a gift, your only job is to receive it." I'm still learning the balance, because I do not like to feel out of control and vulnerability has been scary for me in the past, especially when you've experienced kindness being used as a weapon, I feel like that's why clinging to that autonomy feels so safe...

I eventually broke it off with that bf, but if I had to do it different, I may have just been honest and said..."I am feeling scared that you want to be more involved in my life...I don't know if I can trust you" and just been honest. I think honesty helps maintain some autonomy...but I am still figuring it out. It's also about choosing the right people to open up to, which can be bewildering.

I hope you find the support that's right for you <3
 

KayW

Learning
The notion that a relationship where there is a power imbalance is unhealthy may be true in some cases but not all. In fact, some people deliberately seek out that sort of relationship (and I'm wondering if you think that many marriages in the, say 50s and 60s, were unhealthy? Many of them were not balanced in terms of power, but people were happy) and are perfectly happy in it.
I think old fasioned relationship roles can seem imbalanced, but when the roles suit and there is mutual respect for the others worth in their role, then there isnt a power imbalance. I grew up in a household controlled by one person and we were made to act happy, even when we werent. I think lots of people in unhealthy relationships do act happy even when theyre not. But my view is tainted by my own experiences. I want to believe that people are happy with other people having power over tnem, and I know that not everyone in power abuses their position.
I relate to this so much. I actually had a past boyfriend that was offering to help me out with something and I was like "no I got it" and he got really angry. It was actually our worst fight. That's always stuck with me. It was a powerful message to me that refusing support from someone that is offering it willingly can actually come off as insulting to them.
I guess if you yelled at him to back off, him being angry is understandable. But saying that you dont want someones help, or that what theyre doing isnt helping is your right to independence isnt it?
, "when someone gives you a gift, your only job is to receive it."
This is ok, if the support is a gift. After one trauma, there was a witness to the trauma who helped me by saying it was best if I didnt tell anyone (he also happened to be a friend of the person who attacked me). He continued to act like my advisor, but the advise he was giving was all about shutting me up and trying to make what had happened disappear. His support was manipulative and didnt have my best interests at heart at all.
I eventually broke it off with that bf, but if I had to do it different, I may have just been honest and said..."I am feeling scared that you want to be more involved in my life...I don't know if I can trust you" and just been honest. I think honesty helps maintain some autonomy.
I think youre right. This needs self-awareness (Im not too bad at this) but also some control over the anxiety in the moment that might prevent me from saying it.
 
But saying that you dont want someones help, or that what theyre doing isnt helping is your right to independence isnt it?
Yes absolutely, I more-so was saying that I can see how he may have felt like I was shutting him out and I can see how that can contribute to a lack of intimacy...like pushing away love because I was scared. It just caused me to have more awareness about my part in relationships because if I do want support or love in my life but am constantly turning it away, well that's something to look at. But it doesn't mean I have to give up my autonomy where it doesn't feel comfortable. Sometimes just communicating that to the other party can maintain their willingness to be there in ways that I will allow them to be there, but always taking on everything myself I can see can how it maybe sends the message that I don't want them in my life at all, when that's not necessarily the case.

He continued to act like my advisor, but the advise he was giving was all about shutting me up and trying to make what had happened disappear. His support was manipulative and didnt have my best interests at heart at all.


I feel you though, that it's situational. it's like learning who is healthy and whose intentions are genuine is the part that's not always immediately clear.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
think old fasioned relationship roles can seem imbalanced, but when the roles suit and there is mutual respect for the others worth in their role, then there isnt a power imbalance. I grew up in a household controlled by one person and we were made to act happy, even when we werent. I think lots of people in unhealthy relationships do act happy even when theyre not. But my view is tainted by my own experiences. I want to believe that people are happy with other people having power over tnem, and I know that not everyone in power abuses their position.
I get what you're saying. I grew up in a home where my mom had NO power, no say, no anything. We were both miserable. But I was in a six-year relationship with someone, where there was an intentional imbalance of power. It was the absolute happiest I have ever been. He was kind and gentle and never once abused me, in any way. He watched out for me and took care of me in ways no one has before or since.
 
Top