: 14 July 2013

How to Be a Supportive Partner (& What You Gain as a Result)

Sometimes we fail to support our partners in becoming the best versions of the of themselves because we’re scared of what that means for us. What if he wants something I don’t want? What if her desire takes her away from me?
We fear if he learns to fly, he might fly away. And so, we hold our partners back (sometimes without even knowing it). This strategy always backfires–it ends up holding our relationships back, as well.

In this article I’m going to discuss how to feel safe enough to support your partner to fly, and why doing so will take your relationship to new heights of love.

To begin with, it’s important to remember that our partners are individuals. They have their own desires, hopes, visions and dreams. And while you’re likely to partner-up with someone who holds similar beliefs about the world, no one is ever going to want everything that you want, too.

Unfortunately, this scares us. We’re scared that our partners’ dreams might take them away from us, so we may not support them in fulfilling them. What we don’t realize is the opposite is actually true: supporting the happiness of your partner encourages them to bring their happiness back to you.

Think about it. How does your relationship feel when your partner is shining; when they’re happy, free, and doing what they love? If you’re internally secure enough, I imagine it feels great! Most of us love seeing our loved ones shine! And we also feel the benefit of it–because when we’re happy, we share the love.

Good vibes support the health of a relationship.

Which means the opposite it true: bad vibes hinder the health of a relationship.

When someone holds us back, we get resentful. Not a single person on this planet enjoys feeling controlled or stifled. It’s completely against our nature; it makes us want to run away.

Support is always the way to go if your want your relationship to thrive. So, how do you do it?

Well, for starters, you have to know what it means to be genuinely supportive. True support is about about encouraging someone’s growth as a human being. Support doesn’t mean we encourage people to do whatever they want, just because they want it. Let me show you.

Supporting an alcoholic in their destructive drinking pattern is not being supportive in the name of love. It’s enabling. But supporting your partner to take that trip abroad because it’s something she’s always wanted to do (and she wants to do it alone) is being supportive. See the difference?

Support always encourages growth. And this is why it can be scary. Growth pushes us into the unknown. But having faith in love is trusting that if you support your partner in becoming the best version of himself or herself, it will support your relationship, too.

I hope that you will support your partner to shine so you can bask in some of that light.

Please leave a comment below to tell us how you support your partner in being the best version of himself or herself. Looking forward to hearing from you!


  1. Christina on July 15, 2013 at 12:00 am

    This is something I’m learning to do – my partner is very social whereas I am shy by nature. Sometimes I know in the past I’ve wrongly held him back by not fully encouraging him to meet up with new friends, or go out to new places that he wants to because I’m nervous of how I will feel in the situation. I’m really trying to work on this though and I have spoken about it with him. Great article.

    • Shelly Bullard on July 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      That’s awesome, Christina.

  2. abhyanga on July 15, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I am exploring this whole wonderful scary life experience with the one I love right now .. and agree with your thought provoking article .. thank you !

  3. Melanie on July 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Hi Shelley! I am here in Australia reading your post with tears in my eyes, all the way across the other side of the world, you have struck a deep chord within. I know in many ways I have held my partner back for fear of losing him, I also know deep down this is because I feel insecure because I am very unattractive. How do I move away from this place of fear? It is easy to say ‘let go’ when you’re beautiful, but when you’re not……………….. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject. thank you again for such a wonderful insightful post. Please keep them coming! I would love it if you could write a ebook, ‘maybe titled “lessons for love”?! I would buy it in a heartbeat (excuse the pun). Cheers, Melanie.

    • Shelly Bullard on July 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Melanie,
      Thank you for your comment. Look, your man is with you, right? There is a reason for that. If you trust your worth (which truly comes from within), then he will trust it too. Beauty is an interesting thing. People who don’t believe they are beautiful tend to feel inadequate, and as if everything would be better if they had “it.” Yet beautiful people have lots of challenges too, including not being valued, seen, or known for who they really are (beneath their skin). I guess what all this means to me is we are all unique (which is very beautiful), we all have challenges in love and, at our cores, none of us are actually lacking. When we start to orient to ourselves and the world from the perspective of spirit (rather then what’s going on on the surface), we know that we are magnificent just as we are. And when you believe that about yourself, others will too. That is beauty.

      Lots of love, XO

      • Melanie on July 16, 2013 at 12:25 am

        HI Shelley, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I totally understand what you are saying, however, in saying that, I would gladly become a beautiful person who didn’t wake up, and cry when she caught her reflection in the mirror. I would much rather have the beautiful person challenges of being accepted for someone other than ‘just a pretty face’! In saying that, I do understand where you are coming from and realise I have a lot of self love to work on. If you have already written a post on attaining self love, please can you provide the link? I could really use some help right now. Thank you again, please keep such wonderful insightful articles coming as you are truly reaching out to more people than you realise.
        Regards, Melanie.

        • Jasmine on July 19, 2013 at 8:07 am

          Hi Melanie,
          I know where you are coming from BUT I can tell you that these negative feelings do go away when you start to let them go. I have been so insecure about being in a relationship all my life because of the way I look, I still haven’t been in a serious relationship and I’m now 33! It is self-sabotaging to think that you are unattractive, and as Shelly has said, other people will see your worth when you do.

          I know that is true because in my mid twenties, I lost a lot of weight especially on my face and always looked tired. People used to call me ugly and it made me feel suicidal. Then I started working on myself using techniques like EFT, the Sedona method and TAT to help me overcome this. I am now finding praying so much more better as its quicker and faster relief when I simply pray to God to take away the negative feeling and that I give Him this negativity to heal.

          Over time, I have become a lot more accepting of my appearance and others have too. I get comments sometimes off random people that I am pretty. I still have a long way to go as there are deep childhood related reasons for this.

          Also look after yourself. Treat yourself to a facial, back massage, have fun with makeup. The person you are with obviously knows you are beautiful as they are already with you. Count yourself lucky!!

          Best wishes

  4. ceri on July 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I used to find it rather scary when my partner would talk about future dreams and plans- I find myself wondering ‘where do I fit in to all this?’ when really that’s just a selfish observation on my part.now I like to take inspiration from him, it makes me think about the things I want to achieve and gives me that nudge to get off my backside to do so..

    it shouldn’t be an issue as at the end of the day love will bring us back together. its a positive thing that we can both have our separate lives to either work, socialise with separate friends or travel or whatever, as this is what makes conversation and sharing your day more interesting and therefore you don’t end up living in a stale relationship.

    its easy to get sucked into negative thinking, and worry about things that may never happen, like losing them, but they are more likely too if we end up resenting them for just wanting to be happy and fulfilled.
    I always say it takes more energy being unhappy and worried and stressed than it does just to be happy.

    if you make yourself happy by doing the things you need to do, developing you as an individual then your partner surely would find you more attractive anyway, right?

    kind of makes sense to me…:-)

    I love reading your blogs- ever inspiring and they do make me think about my love and relationships in a new light.

    • Shelly Bullard on July 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing, Ceri! XOXO

  5. Jenny H. on July 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Wonderful reminder. So true. Thank you! 🙂

  6. Cindy on July 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Nice post! Thanks 😀

  7. Leah on July 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Wow. Wow is all I can say. We are all Connected Lady, and its all a part of a Grand Plan! Much Love and Light to You and Yours XOXO

    • Shelly Bullard on July 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm


  8. Chantrelle Glickman on July 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Your timing with this post really got to me because this is literally the issue I’m struggling with right now. I’m in a long distance relationship with a serial entrepreneur and I try to be as supportive of his dreams, but I’ll be honest I’ve been selfish because he wants to be a motivational speaker & succeed in his network marketing company & all his side business projects. I sometimes feel like I can’t completely be part of his world because I don’t think the way he thinks. I try to find the balance on my dreams and our dreams together. And I know he will be the next Tony Robbins, but I get scared that means he won’t have any time for me or us. The distance doesn’t help, but I know you are right. I love him so much, but I don’t know how to stop being so emotional and just let my anxiety and fears go. It’s hard to truly focus on only me when I wonder when we could make our relationship grow more together. He’s a truly amazing man who wants to leave an impact and succeed. He has a beautiful heart, but I fear when he gets to where he wants to be even in this process to getting to his goal that he’ll forget all about me. What is the best way to stop being so selfish and to overcome all these fears? And to stop missing him so much? Thank you for all your amazing words of wisdom, your words inspire me and help me understand how I feel. You definitely know how to impact people’s lives Shelly!

    • Shelly Bullard on July 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Chantrelle, Thank you for your reply. You need to work on 2 things: self-love (to help with you fears of losing him, which actually stem from a general fear of losing love) and finding your own passion in life. Best of luck to you! XO

  9. Darshana on July 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thanks, Its really great one. I am to much possessive about our relationship and not ready to share him with anyone. literally anyone. I am being jealous even if his relationship with his mother. He is too social also and he likes to spend more times with friends.I am not attractive and beautiful so always afraid for loosing his attention. But I realised that every one is independent individual and need ones own freedom. My partner is always interested to travel other country alone , along with his friend. He had fulfilled his fantasy few times , but I had never supported whole heartedly as he is not controllable guy. Thanks , this is eye opening message and will happily allow him to do whatever he wish.

  10. tiffany on July 17, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Hi Shelly. SO my boyfriend of 8 years moved across the country a year and a half ago. It was supposed to be for 7 months.. for a job. Which then took double the time. In that time he fell in love with California. He kept me believing .. up till yesterday that he would be coming back to live. I finally got him to admit yesterday that he doesn’t want to leave Cali. Although he loves me and my girls, he feels Cali has more to offer him. Neither of us is financially in the place to support this long distance relationship. I am having a really hard time supporting him in this. I feel betrayed, lied to , led on. I tried several times to end it .. to take a break and if he ever decided to come back east we could see then, He would then talk me into hanging on .. that it would just be another month or two.. etc.. I am devastated by his decision. I am also judging myself for not being open enough to support him in this and be there for him? Got any ideas?

    • Shelly Bullard on July 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      I’m not sure the experience you described is about support Tiffany; it’s sounds like it more about acceptance. Of course you are going to feel sad, scared, abandoned, frustrated about his decision, and your feelings are always valid (we as women sometimes think we are supposed to be “ok with” and not feel what we authentically feel–this is false). And, the truth is he made a decision. You may not like it, but it happened. This calls for acceptance. Not necessarily support (if you mean support in the “oh, no problem” sense), but acceptance (ok, this happened, I feel ____, I’m going to move forward). Do you see the difference?

  11. Anna on July 21, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Hi Shelly,
    You always write about important themes which we all struggle with, thank you for tackling these issues!

    How about couples that are very much like each other? In my case I and my partner are both very artistic types, and sometimes I find myself not wanting him to get into “my field”. We both have and share many hobbies, but I am fundamentally a painter. So when my partner (who is very successful in all he does) wants to get into painting, I feel threatened that he may outshine me. There is a lurking fear that he may be better than me in all things.. including painting. How do I get rid of this fear? It is holding me, and him, back. How could I free us both?

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    • Shelly Bullard on July 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Anna,Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you are competing with your man, rather than collaborating. And it also sounds like it is an internal issue–fear of not being good enough. So, working on accepting yourself and knowing that you are good enough is the direction I would suggest.


  12. Amy on July 22, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Just found this beautiful post on mindgreenbody. LOVE your work. Very inspirational and compassionate. I’ll be reposting and following. XOXO Amy

    • Shelly Bullard on July 22, 2013 at 3:42 am

      Thank you!!

  13. phoenixrose360 on August 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I’m in this situation currently, or maybe not. My mate and I have only been dating for 6 months or so, and now he’s taken a job where his home base is in another state and he travels back home if his schedule permits. When he told me he wanted to take this position, that caused arguments, because I didn’t know how we could connect with this crazy schedule. So here we are a couple of months in, and it is challenging especially when he can’t come home…would you consider this support or delusional, that we could make it work?

Before you dive any deeper...

Hi, I’m Shelly!

I’m a relationship coach, licensed marriage & family therapist, wife, girl mom, world traveler and… a damn good manifesting teacher.

On any random Saturday, you could find me hiking in the Redwoods with my family during the day AND relaxing to all songs on 🎶the foggy jazz🎶 station on Spotify in the evening with my man…

I’ve helped 125,000+ expansive, beautiful humans manifest their desires through my YouTube channel.

Over the last decade, I transformed my love life… I went from feeling terrified that I may never find love or have a family of my own to manifesting marriage, my baby, our dream home, and so much more. Now, I want to help you do the same.

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