Flash back to ancient times, as two young cave dwellers return home from a hunt to report separately to their mates, “I didn’t do well. I caught nothing. Everyone else got something.” The cavewoman who stroked her partner’s face soothingly and said, “Don’t worry, you will be the best tomorrow. I know you will. I believe you will,” both supported him and strengthened their bond. The cavewoman who retorted, “You caught nothing?! How could you catch nothing?!” did the opposite.
Eons later, when these couples’ descendants attended a conference in Las Vegas, which do you think had a better time?
We all want to be attractive to our mate; we all want our mate to desire us. And while a look in the mirror might lead you to think you’re a beauty, if you’re an unsupportive husband or wife, you’re more likely a beast.
Being supportive to your partner when she or he is feeling down or has experienced a setback rebuilds their confidence, and it is confidence, and the positive feelings it breeds, that fuels their belief that they can rebound and be more successful tomorrow. This is one of the evolutionary functions of support: It helps people recover from adversity and increases their chances to survive. Being a supportive mate makes you moreattractive because, over time, a supportive partner is perceived as a confidence builder.
We all want to feel confident, so it is only natural that we would be attracted to people whobuild our confidence. “I couldn’t have done it without my spouse,” is an homage to the supportive partner. Being supportive to a partner makes you desirable; he or she wants to be with you because your support provides them with positive energy. And there is overwhelming contemporary research indicating that marital discord is often rooted in a lack of support.
How do you express support to your partner (or, for that matter, to your child, assistant, staff, or team)? One way is to be encouraging by making direct statements that you believe in their ability to be successful in their endeavors. Be a positive thinker for them, especially when they have setbacks—because your support helps them make a comeback.
When your partner experiences success, express pride; too many people feel threatened by a partner’s accomplishments. And when he or she comes to you with a problem or shares a troublesome situation from work or with a friend, demonstrate support by simply listening in a non-evaluative manner. Help him or her clarify and validate feelings, and help them problem solve—if asked. Too many of us respond too quickly with “solutions” or with blame for the individual for creating the plight, or are simply dismissive—“It’s not a big deal. Forget about it.”
The article first appeared in https://www.psychologytoday.com.