One of the best things about being in a relationship is knowing that you always have someone in your corner. Out of all the billions of people in the world there's at least one who'll always listen to you, support you, and just be there for you when you need them. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for every relationship. So how can you tell if your partner has your back or not?
As Dr. Debi Silber, transformational psychologist and author tells Bustle, feeling unsupported by your partner can show itself in many different ways. For instance, if your partner doesn't have your back, you might express your concerns over something in the relationship and they'll somehow minimize it. You may even have an important event coming up that's giving you anxiety and your partner won't seem too interested in helping to ease your worries.
"It’s usually during times of challenge that we see how those we’ve counted on either have our back or they don’t," Dr. Silber says. "Of course, every relationship has its own set of rules around what’s acceptable and what’s not, but feeling supported by those we’re in a relationship with increases intimacy and strengthens the relationship." On the other hand, feeling unsupported can lead to frustration, resentment, and distance.
When you're in a relationship, you should be able to take comfort in the fact that your partner always supports you. But if your partner never says these things to you, experts say, they might not have your back.
"Relationships are constant negotiations, and you want to make sure your partner is saying 'yes' to what you ask at least some of the time," Andrea Amour, Founder at UpDate Coaching, tells Bustle. If you're always the one giving in, it might be a sign that you're getting "bulldozed" in the relationship. This can set you up for an unhealthy dynamic which can work against you when you need your partner most. So talk to them about it.
2. "Let Me Do That For You"
You may not expect it, but it always feels good when your partner goes out of the way to do something thoughtful for you. "Whether it's carrying the groceries, parking the car, paying an overdo bill, or researching what to do for date night, it's important for your partner to help you even when they don't have to," Amour says.
3. "I'd Love Your Help"
"Though seemingly ironic, one thing that indicates your partner does not have your back is when they do not or refuse to accept your contributions to them and to the relationship itself," Mark Borg Jr, PhD, co-author of Relationship Sanity: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Relationships, tells Bustle. In other words, your partner never asks for your help or expects you to do anything for the relationship. According to him, this can indicate that your partner has a "me" versus "we" mentality. "The problem, dynamically speaking with self-sufficiency is that it is a characteristic that expresses itself as 'everyone for [themself],'" Dr. Borg says. "When things get rough (and they will), the self-sufficient partner will look out for number one." Relationships in which partners have each other's backs are a balanced mix of giving and receiving.
4. "I'm With You"
If your partner is so concerned about what their mom says or what their friends say, they might put other people's wants and needs before yours. "They might be more concerned about wanting other people to like them versus how you will feel if they're not taking your side in a disagreement," licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, MA, tells Bustle. Your partner may not always agree with what you say. But if they truly have your back, they'll be able to say they're with you, especially around other people.
5. "Do You Want To Talk About It?"
When you experience a challenge at work like a bad performance evaluation, your partner should be there to talk and listen. They'll show empathy by allowing you to vent, and most importantly, they won't question what you might have done wrong. When your partner has your back, Grant Brenner, co-author of Relationship Sanity: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Relationships, tells Bustle, they won't turn things around on you. A good partner doesn't always have to side with you or agree with you about specifics, but in the grand scheme of things, you should feel like you're on each other's sides, Brenner says.
6. "You're Going To Do Great"
Your dreams may seem too big or ambitious to most people. But if your partner has your back, Elaine Sanders, Empowerment Specialist with EMS Methods, Inc. tells Bustle, they're willing to help you achieve those dreams, even it just means talking to you about them. They will also offer you encouragement and help you keep focused on your goal.
7. "I Got You"
When you’re at a party or a public or social event with your partner, and someone makes a joke at your expense, your partner has a choice. They can either laugh along or stand up for you. "Even if the joke was meant to be fun [...] your partner should know better than anyone else that what was said was hurtful to you," relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "It’s easy to point fingers at the person making fun of you — but it’s more important to understand your partner’s feelings of responsibility and loyalty towards you." If your partner says nothing and just stands there looking uncomfortable, it may be something to point out.
8. "Thank You"
Gratitude is important. As Amour says, "There's a lot that goes on in relationships that goes unthanked like putting the dishes away, folding the laundry, getting a ride or taking the check." Saying thank you for the little things can go a long way. If your partner isn't thanking you enough, they may be taking you for granted, she says. When someone doesn't show their appreciation for you, how can you expect them to be there for you when you need them?
9. "I Love You"
When your partner has your back, they'll be able to say those three important words sincerely and out loud in front of other people. "Love and affection should be evident not only to you, but those around you," Amour says. "If you notice your partner says 'I love you' only when you're alone, it's definitely a warning sign and worth asking them what's up." To be fair, not everyone likes PDA. But that should be expressed. "You want to know they're not hiding their affection for you for some other reason," she says.
If your partner hardly ever says these things to you, it doesn't mean your relationship is going to fail. As Dr. Silber says, "Anything can be worked on if it’s important enough." If you bring up your concerns and your partner cares enough to make a change, it could be the beginning of a brand new relationship where you both feel seen, heard, and supported.