Supportive Relationships

Holding hands.

Supportive relationships are believed to enhance wellbeing (Cook-Cottone 2015b ; Norcross and Guy 2007 ) as well. It is important to make a distinction between simply having relationships and engaging in healthy and supportive relationships (Cook-Cottone 2015b ). An example of supportive relationships is the use of community support groups (McCusker et al. 2015 ). A counter-example is a relationship in which an individual feels as if he or she cannot say, No. This is related to the notion that an important aspect of healthy relationships is appropriate boundaries (Norcross and Guy 2007 ; Sayrs 2012 ).


  • I spent time with people who are good to me (e.g., support, encourage, and believe in me)
  • I scheduled/planned time to be with people who are special to me
  • I felt supported by people in my life
  • I felt confident that people in my life would respect my choice if I said “no"
  • I felt that I had someone who would listen to me if I became upset (e.g., friend, counselor, group)


  • Research has found a link between low levels of social support and an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious diseases.
  • A meta-analytic study found that individuals with strong social relationships have a 50% greater chance of survival, in comparison to those with inadequate social relationships.
  • There is a large body of research that has found that people with more supportive and rewarding relationships report having better mental health and overall wellbeing

Specific Guidance

  • Ways to promote supportive relationships include:
    • Setting boundaries
    • Making time in your schedule to spend time with people that are important to you
    • Being assertive
    • Being willing to accept/receive help
    • Communicating openly
    • Knowing when a relationship isn’t working for you



  • Uchino, B.N. Understanding the links between social support and physical health. (2009).Perspectives on Psychological Science 4(3), 236-255.
  • Salyer, J., Schubert, C. M., & Chiaranai, C. (2012). Supportive relationships, self-care confidence, and heart failure self-care. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 27(5), 384-393.
  • Uchino, B. N., Uno, D., & Holt-Lunstad, J. (1999). Social support, physiological processes, and health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8(5), 145-148.
  • Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS medicine, 7(7), e1000316.
  • Weir, K. (2018, March). Retrieved from
  • Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2015). A new look at social support: A theoretical perspective on thriving through relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19(2), 113-147.