- The paper examines cohorts of individuals with helpful and unhelpful social supports identified in a longitudinal study of stressful events, social supports and health. Specific features of the quantity and quality of social relationships leading to help and support are examined. Individuals with helpful social supports describe their social networks as smaller and appear to derive support primarily from spouse and close family relationships. No significant differences in the number of multiplex and reciprocal relationships were found. Subjects reporting the least helpful social supports also reported significantly more stressful events in the past five years and significantly more childhood events.