Relationships

11 Signs Your Partner Is Unsupportive

#1: They minimize your feelings.

11 sneaky signs your partner is unsupportive, according to relationship experts.
Getty Images/ Westend61
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

When a partner is supportive, they’ll do cool things like listen to your problems, boost you up when you’re feeling down, and cheer you on towards a goal. This attitude — when it goes both ways — contributes to a strong, healthy relationship. So if your partner isn't being supportive, it can truly feel like an important piece of the puzzle is missing.

"Having psychological and emotional support in a relationship creates cohesion between two people," licensed psychologist Dr. Danielle Forshee, Psy.D., LCSW, tells Bustle. "It exemplifies the level of attachment, love, and care, as well as stability and predictability of the partner. When support is not present, or when support is not consistently present, it renders the relationship vulnerable to being unsuccessful."

Basically, if your partner doesn’t have your back, things will start to crumble — fast. “It may make it more difficult to resolve differences or conflicts and the same issues tend to resurface because emotional cues are missed and not attended to,” Dr. Holly Schiff, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “Without the emotional support and encouragement, [that missing piece will] seem even larger in times of stress and conflict.”

It may help to let an unsupportive partner know when they’re letting you down to see if they can turn things around. If you notice any of these 11 signs your partner isn’t as supportive as they should be, start there and see if it helps get your relationship back on track.

1

They Minimize Your Feelings

A partner is minimizing your feelings when they say stuff like “omg, that isn’t a big deal” or “you’re getting way too upset over this.” “They should be validating your emotions,” Schiff says, “instead of having you question the validity of what you are feeling.”

When you’re upset or worried, those emotions deserve to be recognized. A supportive partner will try their best to understand by asking questions. Or, at the very least, by being present if you need to talk.

2

They’re Dismissive During Tough Conversations

Being dismissive is very similar to minimizing, but in this case, they’ll completely brush you off when you’re trying to have a serious conversation. They might not answer your texts or they might act like nothing’s wrong — all of which will leave you feeling alone and ignored.

It may not be fun to talk about serious things, but "a supportive partner will gladly hear you out," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and dating expert, tells Bustle. "If your partner won’t take your feelings seriously, it’s a red flag."

3

They Often Let You Down

Shutterstock

Your partner is one of the few people who should want to celebrate important moments, like promotions and birthdays. So consider it a bad sign if you have to ask if they’ll be there.

"By not showing up, they are not experiencing things that are special to you,” Lauren L. Rigney, MS, LMHC, NCC tells Bustle. They’re also sending the (very loud) message that you aren’t a priority in their life, and that is not the makings of a solid relationship.

4

They Aren't Happy For Your Successes

Be wary of a partner who seems to feign excitement when things go well in your life, like those aforementioned promotions. While there could be any number of reasons why they aren’t supportive, the impact is the same. "When there is dismissiveness over time in a relationship, it creates a distance between you, which lends itself to an increase in arguments and general unhappiness in the relationship," Forshee says.

Pointing it out may help, as your partner might not even realize that they’re coming off super blasé. But if they can’t change their ways, you may be happier venturing off your own and/or finding a partner who shows up with bells and whistles on.

5

They Don’t Show Interest In Your Goals

Whether you want to go to grad school, adopt a dog, buy your own house — heck, even if you just want to wake up an hour earlier than usual — a supportive partner will be right there next to you, taping it all to your vision board.

From the big stuff to the little stuff, Schiff says an unsupportive partner will do just the opposite. They won’t cheer you on or find ways to help you along. Instead, they’ll forget to ask questions, they won’t seem interested, and it’ll often feel like you’re doing it all on your own.

6

They Make Everything About Them

EmirMemedovski/E+/Getty Images

Unsupportive folks have a way of taking someone else’s moment and making it about themselves — good, bad, or otherwise.

If you are venting about your day, Schiff says, an unsupportive partner might turn it around and talk about how their day was so much worse. In those moments, they aren’t actively listening or supporting you in what you are trying to share, Schiff says, but one-upping you.

Not only is this an annoying habit, but it also removes any chance you had of growing closer as a couple.

7

They Disappear When Times Get Tough

Your significant other should be there with you at important events — no question. "If you are undergoing a major life event (health issue, job change, accident, etc.), a supportive partner will make sure to be there for you, not only physically but emotionally," Bennett says. So take note if your partner dips the moment sh*t hits the fan. If your partner seems to back away when things get difficult, Bennett says, there is definitely room for improvement.

8

They Don’t Find Little Ways To Help

As Rigney says, "Partners who support each other are invested in their partner's life, goals, and visions for their future.” And one way to so is by looking for small ways to help out make each other’s lives easier.

A supportive partner might bring you coffee while you’re on a Zoom call, or drive you to an important test so you have five extra minutes to study. Basically, they’re always looking for little ways to help.

If this is missing from your relationship (say it with me) your partner could be more supportive. It really isn’t too much to ask.

9

They Talk Over You

Marko Geber/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Everyone slips up and interrupts on occasion. But if your partner simply cannot stop talking over you, don’t act like it’s OK. "Your voice matters," Rigney says. "If you are telling a story it is because you want them to share in the experience, even if it just a funny anecdote. If they often cut you off and never circle back to your story or opinion, it is not a good sign."

10

They’re Super Negative

Consider the mood in the room whenever you talk about something that matters to you. Does your partner respond with negativity or make you feel embarrassed? If so, something’s clearly missing, Amir Fathizadeh, a coach who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle.

Take learning an instrument, for example. “An unsupportive partner will not give you words of encouragement such as, ‘You are improving, it sounds good’ or any positive statement,” he says. “Instead they might say, ‘It sounds too loud’ or might go in a different room and shut the door.”

It’s not like they have to sit excitedly next to you while you hit the wrong note for five hours. But a supportive partner can and should have a positivity about them. Not only will it encourage you to keep going if you have their support, Fathizadeh says, but their kind words will also create closeness, compassion — and a greater sense of intimacy.

11

They Don’t Follow Up

It takes but a minute to send a text, so you really should expect a partner to check in — especially if they know you're going through a tough time, therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle.

If there’s a lack of follow-through and communication and it’s bugging you, let them know. “Voice your needs and express your desires,” Hershenson says. And hopefully, your partner will step up their game and be more supportive.

Sources:

Dr. Danielle Forshee, Psy.D., LCSW, licensed psychologist

Dr. Holly Schiff, Psy.D., licensed clinical psychologist

Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and dating expert

Lauren L. Rigney, MS, LMHC, NCC, licensed mental health counselor

Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, therapist

Amir Fathizadeh, relationship coach