How To Support Your Partner As They Chase Their Dreams

At the beginning of a relationship, it's easy to see yourself happily spending the rest of your life serving as your new partner's number-one supporter. As time moves on, however, and the novelty wears off, it can suddenly become clear that you and your partner are quite different people with very different dreams, goals, and plans for the future. This realization is a pivotal point in the relationship.

If you find yourself still believing in your partner after learning the nitty gritty details of their biggest dreams and they're supportive of yours, too, there is a good chance you'll be in for the long haul. You'll both also have a higher chance of achieving your goals, according to a 2022 meta-analysis of partner support and goal outcomes published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Learning how to support someone else's long-term goals, even when they differ significantly from your own, isn't always easy to maneuver. You'll need to know when — or whether — to jump in and help, when to remain silent, and how to know if you're betraying yourself. Here's a guide to supporting your partner while maintaining healthy personal boundaries.

Be realistic

It's not necessary to have a conversation about your deepest desires, hopes, and dreams with every potential romantic interest you go on a few dates with or chat with online. However, when you start to feel the real possibility of a long-term relationship forming, it is important to share your visions of the future with each other. If you'd like to save yourself a lot of time, effort, and heartache, be realistic about whether those visions add up to a compatible endeavor. Your goals don't have to be identical, but if his dream is to be a successful local butcher and yours is to reach vegan influencer status, you'll need to do some soul-searching before considering a real commitment (via Marriage).

Resist the urge to micromanage

Your partner's goals are theirs and not your own. Being supportive and feeling invested in their success is wonderful, but be sure to allow them the space to go about succeeding in their own way. Don't try to take over, and don't constantly offer unsolicited advice. They are looking for a supportive partner and a soft place to land when they experience setbacks, not a manager, financial advisor, or boss. Try to keep your ideas and advice to yourself unless your partner specifically asks you for it. Even if you've contributed financially to your partner pursuing their goals, it doesn't give you the right to override them. According to Dr. Laura, micromanaging is a sign of anxiety, and you'll need to find another way to express yours.

Offer honest feedback

When you are asked for your opinion by your partner, be honest. If their first step toward their dream wasn't as awe-inspiring as you expected, gently let them know that their skills or idea might need some more fine-tuning. It's better that they receive a dose of reality from you, a person who loves them, than a potential professional contact or the general public. Be supportive and encouraging, always, but also keep it real. Then, provide plenty of reassurance that you still believe in their ability to reach their goals in time (via Psychology Today).

Don't lose yourself

Your partner's dreams are important, but so are yours. Don't get so wrapped up in trying to help them succeed that you forget to work toward your own goals. Carve out time dedicated just to working on your own success in reaching your dreams, and expect to receive the same type of support that you give. If prioritizing your own goals is met with resistance but prioritizing theirs isn't, it's time to have a difficult but very important conversation (via Our Relationship).

Actively listen

Engaging in conversations with a partner that are centered around topics you aren't interested in or don't understand can be one of the more challenging aspects of being in a relationship. After a full day of feeling overloaded at work or listening to your preschooler talk about their favorite video game for hours, maintaining a genuine stake in the conversation can become difficult. Don't be afraid to tell your partner when you're too overstimulated to fully listen and ask if the conversation can be delayed for a couple of hours. Then, follow through and listen deeply. As detailed by PsychCentral, active listening involves maintaining eye contact, asking interested questions, and resisting the urge to check your phone.

Celebrate small victories

Even huge dreams can be broken down into small goals and these are what will pave the way to success. If your partner yearns to be a recognized artist but has no formal training, initiate a small celebration when they finally enroll in an art class. Celebrate again when they master a major technique and again then they finish the class. It is these small steps that will transform the current moment into the future that your partner envisions for themselves and that you envision for them (via Lifehack).