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The How-To Lounge: Being Supportive Even When You Don’t Feel It

Often we’re faced with situations in life when those who we care about make choices we don’t approve of. Obviously if those decisions put them in harms way then we have to come forward and say something, but otherwise, our differing opinions on their lives can be taken as attacks or judgments. Whether we like it or not, sometimes it’s best to remain supportive even when we don’t feel like it. To see my tips on walking this tricky line,


  • Remember that being supportive of someone doesn’t mean you have to support a particular choice they’ve made. You can offer love and respect to someone without approving of every aspect of her life.
  • Instead of consistently biting your tongue, go ahead and speak up. There’s nothing wrong with telling a friend that you don’t feel comfortable discussing a particular topic with her. And she has the right to know why you might be keeping mum on a specific topic.
  • Most of the time people are going to do what they want regardless of the advice they receive to the contrary, but by keeping an open dialog that communicates respect (as opposed to approval) you're more likely to not be cut out of your loved one's decision-making process.
  • If a particular choice does blow up in her face as you suspect it might, try to avoid pulling the “I told you so” card. I’d assume they're already well aware, but by shoving it in their face, it’ll only lessen the chances that she’ll confide in you in the future.
  • If you do feel like you must say something, propose your opinion in a way that reflects a personal anecdote. Use your own experiences to warn her, instead of just expounding your opinion.

While I never condone standing by and watching dangerous behavior take place, I do think that some people really do just have to learn things on their own, so in the meantime, it's best to practice patience over frustration.


Join The Conversation
xxkrist24xx xxkrist24xx 9 years
I have to do this with my boyfriend -- he LOVES poker and has no qualms spending money on online poker and in live tournaments. I don't like it because honestly, as a gal who grew up with no extra money to spare, I see it as a waste of money. But it's his hobby and a) I know he gets enjoyment out of it and b) He's not spending more than he has or spending outrageous amounts on it so I follow the stuff the article says whenever it comes up.
joesbabygirl joesbabygirl 9 years
I've done this with my best friend. She was seeing a guy then found out he was married, and his wife was pregnant. She didn't stop seeing him because he kept telling her he was going to leave the wife,a year later she was still seeing him..wife pregnang again! Finanlly on year 4 of this relationship my best friend had the idiots baby...thats when she finally called it quits. He never left his wife.. At the start of this I wasn't supportive (I wasn't in year 4 either) But this put a bad strain on our relatinship. So I decided I would act like I supported it. I told her if she is happy I'm happy for her. I was really just her shoulder to cry on...every other day...
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
I just did this with a friend of mine that has a bit of a troubled life. She decided to take her 6 year old daughter to see her father in jail(hasn't been there long and probably wont' be staying that long). I don't think this is a very good idea. I just expressed my concerns but made sure to tell her that I wasn't trying to put her down and that I know she knows what's really best for her daughter, but I just wanted to giver her a few things to put in consideration first. She wasn't upset as far as I know. Hopefully I went about it the right way.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
This is such an excellent article. Personally, I agree with everything. They're principles I try to live by with my family and friends. I wish more people would live by these principles. There would be less toxicity!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I do this with my nieces. I tell them that I will always always support them with any of their life decisions, even if I don't agree with it. Because, when I was 18, I moved away from my family because I knew in my gut it was something I just had to do. Everyone told me I was going to fail. Not a single person supported or helped me at all. It was tought, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. So, I took from that experience, that I never want to leave someone I care about stranded, just because I think what they are doing is wrong. They know their life better than I do! And if it doesn't work out, at least they tried! At least they followed something they believe in! I do make it clear if I think what they are doing is stupid, but I would never tell them not to do it - since they wouldn't listen anyway :)
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