Can we all agree that there is nothing worse than having absolutely zero clue how to make your partner feel better when you know they are upset about something? Whether they are upset because of what happened at work that day, complicated family dynamics, a friendship fallout, or anything else that life may have temporarily knocked them down with, all I ever want to do is support them and help them get back on their feet. But, I had to learn the hard way that my initial instinct to do or say what I think might make them feel better isn’t always what they need or want from me, especially in the moment of them explaining what’s going on.
Being honest and willing to admit that my instincts and intentions aren’t always received the way I’d hope they’d be sent me on a deep dive to learn how to be a better support system for my partner—no matter what it is that they are dealing with—and in doing that, I learned that there is only one way to really know how to help and that is by asking the following question: Do you want to be helped, heard, or hugged? Meaning, do you want me to help you and give you advice, do you want me to just listen to what’s going on and not try to fix it, or do you just need to be hugged in order to feel supported?
Ahead, I am breaking down exactly why this is one of the most important questions to ask your partner when they need support, how it can help both of you, and how and when you should implement it in your own relationship, so you can have all the tools you need to support your partner, no matter the circumstances.
How this question can help your partner
I can’t take credit for this insanely helpful question. During one of my typical late-night scrolls on TikTok, this video by Sahil Bloom graced my FYP and forever changed the way that I approach supporting my partner in times of need. Sahil Bloom explains that his wife’s love language is touch, so when she vents about a problem, all she really wants is for him to listen and give her a hug. He goes on to explain that he was “so bad about that for so many years” because he truly didn’t know that’s what she needed. Instead, whenever she would vent to him, he would try to fix it and it would cause fights in their relationship because he wasn’t supporting her in the way she needed him to. Without ever learning to ask “Do you want to be helped, heard, or hugged?”, they would be on an endless loop of frustration.
Understanding your partner’s love language is crucial for a healthy, happy relationship. When your partner comes to you with a problem or dilemma, do you try to help them in the way that they need, or the way that you need? #adviceforyour20s #adviceaboutlife #lifeadvice #relationship #relationshiptok #love #lovelanguage #relationshipadvice #lifehack #relationshipproblems #relationshipdilemma #relationshipdilemmas #lovelife #divorce #gratitude #lovelanguage #love #partner
How this question can help your relationship
Watching this video made me feel so seen that I immediately told my partner about it. The next time he came to me with a problem, I had to stop myself from interjecting with a solution (my go-to support tool) and instead, calmly ask what he needed from me. And let me tell you, it worked. It not only gave me the opportunity to ask instead of assuming what he needed, but it also forced him to pause and really think about what he needed in order to feel better instead of spiraling into whatever was wrong. Being able to move through the conversation with purpose made us both feel so much better afterward. I was happy that I, for quite possibly the first time ever, was actually able to support him in the way that he needed me to, and he felt better about the situation he was in, too. It was so pivotal that since then, he has started to ask me the same question too, and I can say from the perspective of someone who needed the support instead of the one giving it, it is a total game-changer.
How and when to implement this question
My advice? Even when you think you know what your partner needs when they are angry, frustrated, upset, or disappointed, you should always ask them first because they might surprise you. Depending on what they are going through, they might need something different each time they come to you, so maybe giving them advice was great the last time they were upset, but this time, they might just want to be hugged or vent until they run out of things to say. And don’t forget that sometimes they might need two things, like Sahil Bloom’s wife who wants to be heard and hugged. Alternatively, during the times when you have no clue what to say or do, ask this question to gain more clarity about how you can be the most supportive partner you can be.
You can (and should!) ask this question whenever either of you needs support, and it’s helpful to ask right away. For example, if your partner is upset about a frustrating situation with a friend and they start to vent about it before you offer any sort of comment, gesture, or advice, ask this question so you know what type of support they need. It is better to do this right away instead of backtracking when you realize you’re not helping very much.
Similarly, if it is you that needs support, you can always communicate up top what you need before you start explaining to your partner what is wrong. For example, you can say “I had a really rough day today, and to be honest, I just want to vent about it and I might need a hug after” which communicates to your partner that you aren’t looking for a solution but rather to be supported with a listening ear and a good, long hug.