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How To Ask Loved Ones For Help when You Live Alone

While living alone allows you to be independent and self-sufficient, there are times when you might not be able to or want to be on your own. While it can be difficult to ask for help, remember that your loved ones care about you and want to support you. Think about your needs and how someone else can help you. Be gentle in your requests and how you ask for help. Finally, be willing to reach out for any support you need, especially social support.

Figuring Out Your Needs

1. Be confident. It can be difficult to reach out for help, especially if you’re used to living alone and being independent. If you need help due to mental health problems, addictions, or you’re just really in a bind, remind yourself that this person loves you. They may be flattered that you confided in them or asked for help. It’s okay to reach out to your loved ones when you have a need.

If you discuss a personal matter in confidence, say to your loved one, “Thank you for listening and being a friend. I want you to know that what we discussed is private and stays between us. Please don’t share this with anyone else.”

2. Think about what you need. Before you reach out for help, think about what it is you hope your loved ones can do for you. You may want emotional support, social support, medical assistance, help in the home, or financial contributions. What you want may influence how you ask and who you ask. For example, a request for money may be very different than a request for emotional support.

Think about something specific that you’d like help with before you make a request. Instead of saying, “I want help with my addiction” say, “I’d like help making sure I get to therapy and group therapy each week. Can you drive me?”

3. Make a reasonable request. You might need $52,000 for medical expenses; however, it’s unreasonable to ask for or expect someone to pay for that. Instead, you may say, “Recovery is difficult and I haven’t made it back to work yet. It’s hard to take care of the house by myself, and I’m wondering if you can help me with finances.” Asking someone to take time off from their full-time job to help you after surgery may be too much, however, it’s more reasonable to ask someone to check on you after work a few times.

Don’t make demands of people. Often, the tone of voice and words chosen are the difference between asking and telling. Say, “Would you be willing to buy cat food?” or, “Can you help me with my laundry?” instead of pressuring someone or demanding something.

Try giving the person two or three options for ways they can help you so they can choose what works best for them. You could tell them some of the things you need help with and ask, "Do you think you could help me with one of these things?"

4. Consider their needs, but don't be afraid to ask for help. While it is important to consider what your loved ones have going on in their own lives before you ask for help, this should not necessarily stop you from asking for help. You may be afraid that the person is too busy and you don't want to disrupt their lives, but don't assume your friend cannot or will not help you because they have their own struggles. Remember that this person cares about you, and part of being a friend is being able to ask for help when you need it. Just remember that they may not be able to help you, and that's okay.[3]

Consider how you might return the favor. If it’s an hour-long drive for your loved one, consider offering something in return for their help, such as babysitting their kids or helping them in a way that they need it.

If someone does agree to help you, be sure to express gratitude for their care and kindness.

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