Support, Giving and Getting

Break-ups can be devastating. When they occur, we often get trapped between a desire to fix the situation and a wish to make the painful feelings pass. A lot of advice is given about letting it go, finding others, or realizing that the lost person must not have been the one. And that advice falls flat because what is needed is not a way to end the relationship; it's a way to heal.

When emotional wounds are opened, the desire to suppress the pain creates a pattern of self-punishment. Not only does one blame oneself for the loss, but one also harbors ill feelings toward oneself for having such feelings.

It seems that at the same time that our culture is defining relationships as more expendable, they are simultaneously becoming more important to us for setting our bearings in the world. Lost in the shuffle of time are many family and religious traditions that once held a group - and its members - together in a community of support. As we become more isolated individually, the things that we need as human beings slip further from our grasp.

What is it that we seek in a relationship? Security, warmth, and comfort. At the time of a break-up, these things evaporate from our life, leaving us alone, sad, and scared. And those who are the most devastated tend to be the ones who have the most of their needs invested and fulfilled (to a greater or lesser extent) by the relationship. We need to take a longer look at the underlying currents of our social relationships. In doing, we will see that a key element of human relationships is the following formula:

give support = get support

The healing process is not aided by harsh judgments of one's feelings or desire to fix the situation; those feelings are human and they are good, no matter how painful they may be. It is in that softness and openness to life that a full sense of being can be discovered.

The best way to endure a break-up is by caring for others on a daily basis, before and after one of life's disasters strike (and they will, for we live in the hands of the gods and change is a constant). We need more support at those times. Rather than sailing along with the isolationist trend, depending on the service sector (and a shoulder to cry on is increasingly a service that we pay for) for our support, what we need is to increase our willingness to give support to one another. To give support to family, friends, and strangers. Human communities thrived for thousands of years employing the formula of reciprocity. We live in a society that is very good at providing the things we want, but it is at times very bad at providing the things we need - the warmth, comfort, and security that accompany being part of a group that gives and gets support from its members.

How do we get from ending a relationship to truly letting go of it? By slow, painful steps. Each of which is made harder or easier based on the level of communal support available to a person.
Employ the tricks that you know to get past the heartache, but also bear in mind that the fundamental goal of the relationship is to find a place of warmth, love, and security. By expanding the effort one puts into projecting warmth, love, and security to not only a boyfriend or girlfriend, but also to family, friends, and strangers, one gives support to the world and the world will return the favor when the time comes.

Support, Giving and Getting
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  • DeanW

    "give support = get support" when relationships are working the right way. That's why I said we need to take a longer look at the underlying current of the relationship. The writing wasn't as clear as it could have been, so the point wasn't made that it should be that way, that we're at our best when it is, but that we still haven't gotten that Golden Rule down. You're correct that it often happens that you give and give without getting.

    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girl

  • lost-angel

    This was a good article.

    There was only one part I don't agree in. "give support = get support"

    Sometimes all I do is support others, and comfort them. I am always the one reaching out to others who are in pain.

    But when I feel alone, and I am hurting, no one is there....

    Not that I expect to receive what I give to others, but I don't undestand why....why in the end, I'm left all alone.

    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • teesand

    Good article! The one thing I would remind everyone is if it hurts really bad at the time of a breakup its because you were really close to someone. For that to happen they saw something really special in you even if they acted like idiots when they ended it. At one point, they saw how great and wonderful you are. You haven't changed. You are still a great person. So take care of yourself first and try to get your own head on right before you worry about everyone else. You deserve it.

  • A-R-Norman

    DeanW another great article hun--once agian you wow me!

    Angel--never toss pearls before swine. While it is good to give, don't allow yourself to be used--that is a form of self abuse.

    Develop healthy mutually benefiical relationships by seekign individuals of a like mind and heart. Be kind to others but do not let them take your kindness for weakenss.

  • DeanW

    Well said teesand.