Do you find yourself giving and giving to everyone around you? Getting frustrated when you feel a lack of reciprocation? Maybe you start to think that you’re just not meant to get as much love as you give. Sound remotely familiar? If so, this might help you understand why.
Learning about different ways to understand personality has been very eye opening for me. One of my recent explorations was with the four personality quadrants. I learned that people typically have a more dominant quadrant in each pair, with one primary quadrant in the lead. There is the supporter vs controller and the analyzer vs promoter. I found that my dominant quadrants indicated I was a supporting analyzer.
Today I am going to talk about the supporter. As a supporter, one of the biggest problems that you face is giving too much of yourself to others. You genuinely want to help other people and really enjoy making them happy. As a result, you may say yes to things you don’t really want to do or sacrifice your own needs to avoid disappointing someone else. You may do this with the expectation that when you need them, they will be there for you in the same way. Though that often results in disappointment for you if/when they aren’t.
You may try to be agreeable and bend to others’ needs and wants, so you may start to feel unappreciated over time when it feels like nobody is taking your needs into account in return. It may start to feel like you’re never getting reciprocation from the people around you and that you are always the one to make sacrifices. This can lead to burnout from taking on too much, and can even result in building resentment toward the people that you are helping.
Another primary challenge when it comes to being a supporter is having difficulty when it comes to confrontation, setting boundaries, and speaking up for yourself. Because you shy away from confrontation and don’t want to risk upsetting people, you tend not to speak up for what you want and need. This is problematic because others can’t possibly consider your needs if you are unable to express them. You’re so used to doing for others, you have a hard time setting boundaries to ensure you have the time that you need for yourself.
When it comes to romantic relationships, the biggest challenge for the supporter is keeping your identity and independence. It is really easy for the supporter to lose themselves in relationships trying to make the other person happy and comfortable. This is because supporters often try to treat others how they wish to be treated. Supporters also have a tendency to wind up in codependent relationships (likely with people that have a dominating controller quadrant) because they have such a difficult time putting themselves first and practicing selfcare. That is great for a controller type that likes to (you guessed it) be in control.
If this resonated with you, then it is likely you may also be a supporter.
Gaining insight around your personality type allows you to look at it holistically. You can see where your strengths and weaknesses lie, which enables you to work on strengthening the areas where you struggle. Knowing about these quadrants and where you fit helps you see how yourself and others relate to one another. This helps you better understand your relationships with those currently in your life, or those who had been in your life before so you can learn from those situations. Now that you have a sense of the personality style in general, let’s look at some real life examples.
Looking back at my life, I know that being a supporter has impacted my life in many different ways, including my friendships, relationships, and even my work. It helped me see that I’ve lost many friends because I felt unappreciated and grew resentful toward them from a conflict in our dominating personality type. I lost friends and relationships because I was unable to set boundaries for myself, ask for help, or communicate my needs properly.
I would invest a lot of time, energy, and sometimes even money into people that I cared about. One example is how I used to plan and throw birthday parties for friends complete with gifts, a cake, decorations, etc. I went over the top wanting them to have a great birthday and feel appreciated and loved. When my birthday rolled around, those same people wouldn’t take part in anything to celebrate with me. It makes you feel insignificant, and that hurts.
When there was consistently no effort put forward in return for my own, I pushed a lot of people away feeling hurt and resentful. It makes you feel like you’ve been used, or taken advantage of, by people that don’t seem to care about you at all. Sometimes that could be true. In other cases, it could simply be that they have a conflicting personality style and don’t realize how important their support is to you. That pesky limitation of the supporter not speaking up for needs and wants can be in part at fault for these types of mishaps.
Another example is the flaky promoter friends that are always looking for new and exciting things to do. You will make plans, but something else will come up later. The promoter gets excited and completely forgets about the original plans, and this makes the supporter feel like they don’t matter. You feel like an outsider and as though they only want to spend time with you when there is nothing better to do. I’ve had several friends like this, and recognize that I have distanced myself from them in the past for similar reasons.
In relationships, the impact of this style has been even stronger. At first you may try to do everything to make life easy for the other person. To do things that will make them feel loved and supported. They may get accustomed to this and come to expect it as the norm, never really reciprocating the way you expected. When you start to get frustrated and resentful that they never take initiative to try to help you or make you feel loved and supported in the same way, those negative emotions can build. Eventually it will reach a boiling point that often takes them by surprise because they don’t understand where the “sudden” upset is coming from.
When this happened in my last relationship, I totally shut down. We moved in together and I unpacked and decorated the majority of our apartment by myself, tried to stay on top of the cleaning, and had supper started or ready most nights before he came home. He worked a physically demanding job and I was working from home, so the supporter/caretaker in me tried to make things easier on him. Then I started school part-time on top of working a full-time job. At that point I was juggling so much that I was unable to keep the balls in the air.
Self-care was the first to go, and I started missing my workouts quite a bit being too tired and overworked. The house was messier and we ate out more often because I didn’t have the time or energy to clean or cook. I started gaining weight, feeling down on myself, and felt consistently exhausted and burnt out. At that point I expected him to pull a bit more weight without needing to be asked, recognizing that I was drained and stepping up. When that didn’t happen, everything I had described above took hold and the resentment grew.
Of course there were other factors involved in that relationship ending, but this pattern was a big realization as I reviewed the personality quadrants. With this new understanding, I’ll be better able to recognize and prevent the pattern from repeating in future. The awareness of this aspect of myself will enable me to actively practice being more vocal about my needs and setting healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which this particular personality quadrant can impact your personal relationships. You may even find that my stories resonate with you and some of the situations you’ve found yourself in with others. If not from the perspective of a supporter, maybe from a different perspective of interacting with a supporter. If so, I encourage you to dig into the personality quadrants and learn about each one!
No quadrant is necessarily bad, though they all come with strengths and weaknesses. Once you figure out your own dominating quadrant(s), you’ll be better able to spot your weaker points and work to improve them. From there, understanding the other quadrants will help you better understand those around you so you can build better relationships.
Learning about your personality enables you to learn about yourself on a deeper level. That awareness is everything when it comes to creating positive change in your life. That is so worth the effort! YOU are worth the effort.