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When You Want More Love and Support in Relationships

Love

“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ~Brené Brown

For years, I felt unfulfilled in my relationships. I often felt drained, and as if I was the only one giving and doing things for others.

I couldn’t quite understand what I was doing wrong and why relationships were so challenging for me. All I wanted to do was to feel loved and supported. Why couldn’t I get that?

Then, nearly three years ago, after a bad break-up and a ton of other relationship challenges, I reached a breaking point. I knew I had to make some serious changes, so I found myself a therapist, a ton of self-help books, and a few other self-development professionals.

Through this journey, I’ve learned several lessons that have helped me find and create the fulfilling relationships that I have today. Here are four lessons I learned.

1. We have to accept people where they are.

Even though I wanted more depth, intimacy, and support in my relationships, I had to learn to accept that others didn’t always want the same things I did; or, they did want the same things, but they were simply not ready for them at that point in time.

In learning this lesson, I was able to let go of idealistic dreams that some people would one day change and appreciate those relationships for what they were.

Many times we are unfulfilled in relationships because we are lying to ourselves. We choose to reject what is while clinging to our own idealistic dream of what could be.

When we accept relationships as they are, we open the door to connecting with others who are able to give us what we know we deserve.

2. Love begins on the inside, not the outside.

One of my all-time favorite passages on love begins, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” When I was younger I interpreted this as though I had to find someone who was patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, and so on.

I thought it was telling me that I had to judge other people according to that criteria to determine if it was truly “love” or not. I thought it was about seeking it in the external world.

Then, when I heard this verse a couple years ago at a friend’s wedding, I had a huge “ah ha” moment: This verse has nothing to do with looking for these traits in other people. It’s telling us that this is the love that we can find within ourselves. 

It is the love that makes this universe exist and keep it together. It is a love that we all possess.

We are not meant to seek love externally in the world but to connect to it within so that we can create even more of that love in the world around us.

The love that we seek is something that we already have. When we make the conscious effort to tap into that inner love and express it in the world, we can then begin to see all the love around us.

3. It’s more painful to fear being authentic then to actually be authentic.

I always held back my inner truth in relationships because I feared rejection. Deep down, I felt that I wasn’t good enough or worthy.

I feared that others would automatically reject me if I expressed my unique, genuine interests and talents. I felt that by blending in with people, I’d guarantee acceptance.

The reality, though, is that it took so much more effort, more strain, and more heartache to hold on to this fear.

As I have gradually learned how to simply express my authentic truth in relationships, it has not only made my relationships better, it has also given me more energy that I can put into more proactive things.

4. We get what we give.

Even though I often felt like I was giving a lot in my relationships, what I was giving wasn’t necessarily healthy. I often gave to others in order to be accepted and avoid rejection, because I feared being vulnerable. I was giving out of fear, not from a place of inner love.

If you want others to be more real and vulnerable, then you have to be more real and vulnerable. If you want others to openly discuss feelings, then you have to openly discuss feelings. This doesn’t guarantee they’ll reciprocate, but it opens the door for the type of relationship you’d like to have.

Many of us know what we desire in our relationships, but we don’t realize the importance of our part. We have the ability to create the tempo. If we are willing to set the example, others will be more likely to follow and reciprocate.

The more we realize the power of our own actions and align them to our heart’s true desires, the closer we’ll get to creating relationships filled with love, support, authenticity, and fulfillment.

Photo by rabiem22

Profile photo of Jennifer Twardowski

About Jennifer Twardowski

Jennifer is a self and relationship coach and teacher.  She is the founder of jennifertwardowski.com where she helps women create fulfilling relationships andlives by reconnecting with their true heart’s desires. Grab a copy of her Self and Relationship Healing Meditation and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Hi Jennifer,

    I agree with this statement, Love begins on the inside, not the outside. I believed that the true beauty of a person is from within and not how he or she looks on the outside because it is not long lasting. It is the love from within that is long lasting.

    Edmund

  • Awesome, Edmund! 🙂

  • Audrey Meyer

    Well said. I needed to hear that today as I have a tendency to make fear-based giving decisions in my most intimate relationships. As you point out this is ultimately a losing proposition. It always comes back to integrity, authenticity and being love. Only in the expression of these do we find fulfillment. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  • Matt

    Is It too much to get some support while I’m depressed? My wife seems to think I’m pretending

  • It’s definitely a journey to let go of fear-based giving. Glad you enjoyed the article! 🙂

  • No it’s not. You may want to seek out a therapist, support group or some other professional who can give you that emotional support that you need right now. That way you don’t end up causing more problems for yourself. When we’re feeling depressed, it’s so much harder to learn how to give from a place of love without anyone to support us. Know that you deserve that support — find it for yourself on your journey. Good luck. <3

  • Brian

    “When we accept relationships as they are, we open the door to connecting with others who are able to give us what we know we deserve.”

    Can you elaborate on this a little bit? How does one treat a relationship where each person is on a different page? To your point of not wanting the same things at the same time…

  • Julie

    Jennifer! Thank you so much for sharing your lessons with us. I broke up with someone over a year ago, and took time out to work on myself with a therapist and find out why I was putting 80% of myself into a relationship and only receiving 10% in return. I am 29 years old. I have recently started dating again, hoping to find that special someone who I can have a partnership with — 50/50. And many times — I feel like I am sabotaging myself from finding someone because I always end up cutting ties — but I feel in my gut something is already off, and don’t want to put forth the effort. My friends feel like I do this, too. But I have put so much time digging into my relationship patterns, and spending time with myself that I already feel “this person will not accept me for who I am.”

    I suffer from PMDD — and my symptoms are getting better with meds. My biggest fear is that the person in my life won’t understand my condition. For 7-10 of the month, I tend to take out my anxiety, fear, hopelessness and inability to concentrate on the people I love most. It’s not something I can rationalize with — because I am not rational. I am not myself; I am someone I never thought I would be. My hormone imbalance takes over and I find myself losing control, and the next day the damage is done. Without the help of medication — I think — who would want to be with me?

    Would I want to be with a person who is up and down? But, I have to remind myself that it’s not my fault. I have no idea how anyone will accept me for who I am.

    I guess I am still at this stage: “I often gave to others in order to be accepted and avoid rejection, because I feared being vulnerable. I was giving out of fear, not from a place of inner love.”

  • Let’s see how much I can explain without writing another article all together! 😛

    It’s about accepting people as they are, at the level that they are in their own journey and development. It’s a challenging pill to swallow, but the reality is that disappointment is caused by expectation. When we are holding on to this expectation or “dream” (as I referenced in the article) that a person is going to do X, Y, Z for us then we are not accepting that person as we are. We have to fully realize and accept that everyone is doing the best that they can do in this present moment.

    When we accept people as they are, we take our focus from others to ourselves. We give the chance to ask ourselves, “Okay, so that’s where they are… but what am I doing? What can I do so I can receive what I know I deserve?” You then realize your own inner power and how you are a major influence in creating the relationship to be in the way that it is.

    This article >> http://jennifertwardowski.com/2014/06/09/starts-with-you/ explains that idea more. If you have any other questions, please let me know and I’ll see if I can explain more. 🙂

  • lv2terp

    Beautiful post!!!!! I really appreciate your insight, great advice and points to ponder! 🙂

  • I empathize with your situation so much when you said, “But I have put so much time digging into my relationship patterns, and spending time with myself that I already feel “this person will not accept me for who I am.””

    One of the biggest lessons I learned when I was at this point was fully accepting to myself (and the universe) my true desire: Loving and supportive relationships. I feel like you just need to really proclaim to yourself and the universe “Yes, I DO deserve and am worthy of love! It IS possible!” When you really allow yourself to make that mindset shift (even just a little bit) things start changing. I ended up finding a new boyfriend within 24 hours of doing that once a few years ago, actually. Powerful stuff can happen — believe it! 🙂

  • Thanks! So happy to hear you enjoyed the article! 🙂

  • Julie

    Aww! Thank you so much. It’s a hard reminder sometimes. 🙂

  • Julie

    And I meant — putting in 80 % and the other person was putting in 20%… WHOOPS. 🙂

  • Nina

    Number one is the killer point for me. I never get what I want from others because my expectations are unrealistic. Time to start appreciating others for what they can give rather than what they cannot.

  • Definitely! It’s such a hard thing to do (it’s definitely a continuous journey) but it makes SUCH a huge difference when you start to make the shift. Good luck! <3

  • Beth Venus

    But how do you know if giving is fear-based or love-based? Can it not be both? I feel like most of the time it is both for me!

  • GREAT question! 🙂 Depending on where we are in our personal and spiritual development, we will be somewhere in the spectrum of this “middle ground” if we consider all of our experiences as a whole. However, if we rate our individual motive behind each action of giving in every single moment as being either fear-based/unhealthy or loved-based/healthy then we definitely decipher between the two. It just takes a lot of work and effort on our own self-awareness. So you can better understand the difference, I explain the difference between the two types of giving in this article: http://jennifertwardowski.com/2013/11/18/difference-healthy-giving-unhealthy-giving/ If you have any other questions, please let me know! 🙂

  • Sarah

    Great article! Wonderful insights here. What I often struggle with, and I hope I’m not missing the point, Jennifer, is finding the balance between accepting others for who they are and where they are at, and yet also being able to recognise when I’m being taken for granted in a relationship/friendship with someone who really isn’t putting in effort or care and knowing when to move on. I’m all about accepting people for where they’re at, but sometimes you need to surround yourself with other people. Would love to hear others’ opinions on this.

  • Glad to hear you like the article Sarah! I hope I’m understanding you wrote, but I think you’re asking about how to find a balance point between accepting others and setting boundaries? Well, certainly having healthy boundaries is an important factor to take into consideration (that’s for another post). Of course we don’t want to be a doormat around a group of toxic personalities. There are times in life where we just have to set the boundary and walk away. When I say to accept people where they are, I don’t mean to be a doormat. I mean to simply let go of your expectations so that the relationship as the opportunity to grow and evolve in a positive way — which may include staying in the relationship and allowing it to deepen or walking away and finding others who can better support you. Hope that makes sense. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. 🙂

  • kirubakar

    Nice article!!! I always like to have healthy meaning full discussions full of fun and laughter, but now I am not even trying to start a conversation, any word, any tone, any idea can trigger a fight (kind of living with a ticking bomb), i am maintaining a script, I wont talk more than that. my wife is unknowingly doing blame gaming , guilt tripping, bullieng and end my interest of having a good conversation, inorder to have peace in home and tired of fighting, I have reduced lot of talking. i am afraid that she is going to influence my daughter with her negative behaviors, now i am so much into spiritual guidance to sustain my inner peace and love. she doesnt understand the subtle part of anything, My kindness to her is always there, but i am slowly becoming a hypocrite to do all the roles and commitments, could someone help?

  • Thanks for sharing your situation, as I relate to this a lot. This kind of dynamic is common — where if one spouse is exhibiting more toxic behaviors, then the other is just letting it all go and just going with it to keep the peace. Though it may seem like the easiest and best way to go, it really isn’t. You have to be willing to set boundaries for yourself and make it known. As I mentioned in the article, we have to accept people where they are. That doesn’t mean to just be a doormat, it means to be truthful to yourself about where people are at. We may be telling ourselves things like “Oh my spouse is very negative, but it’s not that bad” or “He will change someday”. When we say these things we are not accepting what is. You really need to start setting boundaries with her about what’s acceptable for you and your daughter. If she makes a critical comment to you or someone else say something like “I do not appreciate your comment. Please stop. If you do not stop, then I will…” When setting the boundary you have to be sure to say what you will do and then follow through with it if they don’t stop. We teach people how to treat us — and in these kind of situations, we have to set a clear boundary and consequence and follow through with it. Good luck! <3

  • Bilawa

    I sometimes have similar situation where I prefer not to talk at all when my partner started to be so negative about things. I found that setting boundary is a good point. I learned to set up a personal limit and not “betraying” my inner value because otherwise I will only setting a time bomb for myself and my relationship. When I decided that my partner had step over my limit, I said to myself to “be brave for the best of this relationship and endure the momentary pain of telling the truth.” It took time but very rewarding. Hope it also works for you and all the best.

  • Susan Suehr

    Jennifer,

    I enjoyed reading your post. Letting go of trying to control the love is so key to being a loving person. I think you described that all very nicely.

    You comment to Sarah was every important as well. Accepting others as they are is not about being a doormat for them.

    When we are more authentic we really are loving our self. I find it much easier to love others when I am confident in knowing I am loving myself first. Then I know I’m not a doormat.

    Susan

  • Definitely! That is exactly what I stress throughout my coaching practice and business: We really have to learn how to love ourselves in order to fully love others. <3

  • LesAnonymes

    I love this post. I am exercising this with a man I fell in love with. We started out fast and strong and he hit a rough patch in life and said he didn’t want a relationship. We both dated other people and it caused problems. He is also a bad, bad drunk. Because of his drinking and the confusion of ‘not wanting a relationship’ I changed my phone number. He ended up giving me the most heartfelt apology I’ve ever received and is getting help for his drinking problem. I have struggled with addiction issues myself. So I thought, well I can be a source of support for him. I’ve simply just been kind and supportive, and talked with him. I am in love with him. There is so much risk with this, the risk of being hurt because he is in a bad place. But i figure, I can accept who he is right now and enjoy what he has to offer now, regardless of the consequences (heartbreak) and just be loving, caring, and supportive during this rough time. That’s selfless love, right? My friends say I need to just ditch him and find someone else, they say: “you can do better.” but they only see the bad parts, the parts where he hurt me, or that he doesn’t meet criteria on paper. They don’t see the caring, sensitive man. Or understand the strong connection we share and my deep, personal understanding of addiction. Sure I’d love if we ended up together, strong and solid in a long term relationship, but I’m willing to risk getting hurt. Why not just try to love the crap out of him and not expect anything back? I’ve been in bad places and plenty of people have helped me out.

  • LesAnonymes

    He also isn’t this selfish jerk. He is giving and caring. I hate the selfish perspective my friends take about this.

  • nids

    One more point to add here , what I have learnt all these years :
    “We seldom do things for ourselves , and mistake is to think that we did for others”
    Everyone is selfish in the world … .001% exceptionally will be not selfish .
    we often give love and care to people we want and get disturbed if they do not reciprocate..
    But the fact is we never did anything for them , it is only because doing that bring satisfaction to us we do it !!! And we EXPECT in return ..

    we forget the other person also wishes to show love to whomsover he/she wants .. they have every right like us to choose on whom they want to shower love ..

    If we simply understand , accept ::: WHAT we do is only for us .. we will never expect and will never have pain ..

    Human mind and soul are very strange , it longs for somethings very badly and when it achieves that it has urge for something else..

    noone can be satisfied with whatever they have .. and if they are … then life would be standstill .. there will not be any dreams … no desires .. no hopes .. no prayers … no achievement ..and no contentment …

    it is a vicious circle of wanting , waiting , achieving ,forgetting and then wanting something again and cycle goes on and on …

    Cheers !!!

    If you find something true in this article , leave a message .

    🙂

  • Miranda Linkous

    Wonderful article! Such truth in all of those lessons, no matter how difficult it is for me to hear. I have the bad habit of wanting to rush intimacy and have this instant connection and history with a guy. Yet I’m afraid to be the one to open up first because I’ve been trampled on before when I do that. If I want a man to open up to me, though, I have to show him what it means to me. Thank you for this.

  • I strongly appreciated this article. My heart is in pain because I can’t find a love, and I need it every day more. I agree that I will get what I give, and if I’m in need I can’t give to a girl but my need. My question is: how to get out of this loop? When I meet a woman I like, I do my best to let her feel comfortable, happy, welcomed and sincerely loved, but the result is always negative: they always reject me, and every time I fall into a deep sadness and anger. Is there a way to change this painful condition? Moreover, am I allowed to express physical attraction to a woman? When I try to gently express it, they scold me and react badly. Is the sincere and gentle expression of my physical attraction something wrong or guilty?

  • So glad to hear you enjoyed the article Miranda! 🙂

  • So happy to hear that you liked the article! It’s a bit hard for me to really hone in on what the problem is with what little information you’ve given me — but, for starters, it almost sounds like you may be focusing too much on making things comfortable for them in the relationship than yourself. It sounds like you could be falling into a bit too much of a caretaker mode and, therefore, neglecting yourself and your own needs, which may be causing the problems. Perhaps focusing more on you and what you want is what you need to do to balance things out and create a better outcome. Second, it’s not necessarily bad to express physical attraction but it may be in how it is expressed that could be a problem… mixed with how sensitive the other person may be to it. Hope that helps a bit. <3

  • Happy to hear you enjoyed the article! 🙂

  • Rose

    I don’t mean this to scare you, but it is possible that your wife’s negativity could influence your daughter. My mother was very negative, an angry person most of the time, a “victim” of everything that went wrong in her life. Unfortunately, I took to it and it has affected me for years, even after she passed away. I don’t know if I “inherited” it through genes or if it was through behavioral learning, but I see her in myself all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved and still love her very much, and she had some great qualities, she just let the negativity rule her life the majority of the time. I am working hard to change that part of me. Anyway, my point is, I think it’s important to talk to your daughter about your wife’s tendencies…depending on her age, obviously, because a young girl cannot begin to understand the complexity of issues like that. My father waited until I was about 21 until he revealed a lot of things about her and their relationship that I hadn’t realized myself (I was only 17 when she passed, so I never knew her as an adult). His confronting me with these issues made me realize that I needed to change. If he hadn’t bothered, I could still be in the dark as I was for a long time.

  • L

    It’s like you read my mind with this article. Most poignant for me, has to be point 3 cos I’m struggling right this moment with having expressed how I feel to a friend who’s been distant and cold. When I started reading this, I was at the point of beating myself up over being an honest “freak” when I could have been “normal” and pretended everything was fine in order to avoid the inevitable awkwardness when / if we meet. But deep down inside, I know better – it’s preferable to have been rejected for being real than accepted for being someone I’m not. Thank you.

  • Nazmi Syazwan

    I just came across this at work while I’m sitting just a few desk away from her. I know it is not always healthy to start relationships with your co-worker but she has helped me through a lot in my life. I started reconnecting with my family, manage my finances a whole lot better and I want to give the world to her. I guess I fall into the part 1. Whilst it seems as perfect as it is, she has a couple issues on herself as well, ex boyfriends that can’t get over her etc. I’d always like to be there for her and especially when it matters. But I struggle a lot in when it comes down to some things where I she tells me not to do things for her and I always end up on the part where I thought I’d be patient and her ex comes in at the right moment to help her. IT KILLED ME TODAY. I need help