How To Support Your Partner When They're Going Through A Tough Time
I don't really keep up with Kardashians (or with Kanye West, for that matter), but when I heard about the unthinkable trauma Kim Kardashian West endured in Paris, my heart was so instantly heavy I could feel it drop into my knees.
But to be inside of your apartment all alone and have five scary men posing as cops bust inside of your safe place — your home — put a gun to your head when you're wearing nothing but a bathrobe, tie you up and lock you inside your bathroom is something so frightening that I can imagine it will haunt Kim for the rest of her life. Not to mention, she's a mother of two.
It's no surprise that a source close to Kanye West reported to People Magazine that Mr. West himself felt completely "helpless" when he heard what had happened to his wife.
The source reported,
Kanye says that it has been one of the hardest days of his life, that he feels helpless. This is a guy who isn't used to feeling helpless at all. He's usually in control. And now he realizes that he could have lost her, and there wasn't a thing he could do about it.
Most of us, whether we're world-famous rappers or not, are used to being relatively "in control" of our day-to-day lives.
Even on bad days, we have somewhat of a handle on our routines, so when something wildly unexpectedly sweeps into ours lives — whether it's a death, a car accident or a physical trauma to a loved one — it can really leave us feeling confused as to what to do.
When an ex of mine lost a parent a decade ago, I honestly didn't know what the hell I should have done to show her my support during that time.
What do you say to a woman who just lost the most important, influential person in her life? And how are any of us expected to inherently know the right words to say and the proper way to behave toward our partners when we've never personally experienced what they're going through?
It's so tough to deal with a loved one in pain, and it's easy to get scared and run away. We can clam up and act distant and removed toward our partner because we're afraid of saying the wrong thing.
It's so tough to deal with a loved one in pain, and it's easy to get scared and run away.
But these are the very times, sweet kittens, our partners needs us the most. We need to be there for the person we love not just when it's all glorious sex and sparkly dinner dates, but also when shit gets rough.
Reading about what happened to Kim circled me back to my own experiences in dealing with traumatized partners. And to be honest, I'm not sure I've always handled things the right way. (Yes, your lesbian big sister SOMETIMES makes mistakes, babes!)
So today, I reached out to Dr. Niloo Dardashti, a psychologist and relationship expert in New York City, for some advice on how we should treat our partners when they're going through a tough time.
Dr. Dardashti explains there is no exact formula for how to perfectly care for your partner after a trauma because different people need to be treated in different ways. I might need to be reassured that whatever happened is not going to happen again, while another girl might need to simply be held as she cries.
So with so many different personality types, how do we know how to approach our partners? I mean, we are simply people, not mind readers, right?
Dr. Dardashti advises that you should start by asking your partner questions. Ask them what kind of support they specifically want from you, rather than just assume you know what they need. You might be surprised at how your partner wants to be comforted.
Ask them what kind of support they specifically want from you, rather than just assume you know.
Some of the questions Dr. Dardashti suggested asking are: "What can I do? How can I be supportive?What do you need from me?"
This way, you don't have to guess how your partner needs to be soothed, and you can hear directly from them what it is that they need from you.
Dr. Dardashti also says that oftentimes, men in particular want to "fix" things, and sometimes that's not what we need right away. If you know you're a "fixer," Dr. Dardashti says that instead of finding a solution right away, it's best to say, "Let's talk about what our options are."
And sometimes, instead of fixing, people just want their experience validated. They want to hear, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry that happened to you."
She also says that the key part of comforting a partner is learning to "sit with the discomfort."
It's tough to be with someone going through a tough time. It's requires you to sit with discomfort, and it's really uncomfortable to not know what to do. But expressing to someone you can tolerate the discomfort speaks volumes to a person.
So, there it is. If your partner is going through something really tough, asking them questions and understanding that it's not always going to be a quick fix solution, and instead simply sitting with them through this hard time, is exactly how you can be there for them.
Expressing to someone you can tolerate discomfort speaks volumes to a person.